A Letter About Cuba

Editors Note: About ten years ago a couple I know in Mexico were taking a trip to Cuba. When they told they were going I asked the wife if she would write to me about the trip. At the time she asked me why and I just said she would probably find out. She did.

I’ve left her letter and my translation as received except for my translation in between her lines. I’ve left it hard to read so you can get the feeling she had in writing it. I’m posting this today in celebration of Castro’s death.

 

HACE CUATRO ANOS HICE UN VIAJE A CUBA CON MI ESPOSO,  EN REALIDAD YO

It has been four years since I took a trip to Cuba with my husband.  In reality I

QUERI IR A OTRO LUGAR PERO EL QUERIA IR A CUBA,  ME HABIAN HECHO

wanted to go to another place but he wanted to go to Cuba.  I had heard what form of life

COMENTARIOS SOBRE LA FORMA DE VIVIR EN LA ISLA Y NO  ERA LO QUE TENIA

there was on the island and it wasn’t what I

PLANEADO PARA VACACIONAR.    AL FINAL ME CONVENCIERON SUS

planned for a vacation.  In the end I was convinced with his

ARGUMENTOS SOBRE LO IMPORTANTE DE CONOCER OTRAS CULTURAS Y

arguements about the importance of knowing other cultures

DIFERENTES FORMAS DE VIVIR.

and different forms of living life.

 

DESDE QUE NOS SUBIMOS AL AVION EN LA LINEA CUBANA DE AVIACION TUVE

From the minute we boarded the Cubana Avaition Airliner I had

LA SENZACION DE ESTAR VIAJANDO EN EL TIEMPO…. TODA LA TAPICERIA

a sensation of traveling in the time…all of the aircraft decorations

(COLOR ROJO ANTIGUO)  LOS ASIENTOS, EL AVION COMPLETO PARECIA DE HACE

(an old color of red), the seats, the entire plane looked like it was

40 ANOS.   EL VUELO PASO SIN CONTRATIEMPOS Y  PREVIA ESCALA EN

40 years old.  The flight was without incident, we left

MONTERREY  EN 5 HORAS ESTABAMOS ATERRIZANDO EN LA ISLA DE CUBA.

Monterrey and in 5 hours we landed on the island of Cuba.

 

 

EL ARRIBO FUE BASTANTE LENTO PUES TE REVISAN LA DOCUMENTACION CREO

The arrival was plenty long because it seemed they inspect your documentation

QUE LETRA POR LETRA,  CON  PASAPORTE EN MANO Y SEPARANDO A LOS

letter by letter.,  with our passports in hand and they separated the tourists

TURISTAS EN VARIAS FILAS  DURAS 40 MINUTOS PARA QUE TE VISEN TU

In various files for about 40 minutes so they can verify your

PASAPORTE COMO TURISTA LEGAL EN LA ISLA.

legal entry to the island.

 

EL HOTEL RIVIERA EN LA HABANA ERA EXACTO COMO LO IMAGINAMOS  CON

The Riviera Hotel in  Havana was exactly like I imagined it would be with

LA DECORACION DE LOS ANOS 50 AL IGUAL QUE TODA LA ISLA.  LA GENTE  ERA

with the decorations from the 1950’s just like the entire island.  The people were

MUY AMABLE PERO EN GENERAL NO SE PUEDE CONVERSAR MUCHO CON ELLOS

very freindly but in general you can’t talk to them very much.

PORQUE NO SE LES PERMITE ENTRAR A LOS HOTELES, RESTAURANTES O

Because they are not permitted to enter hotels, restaurants or

LUGARES TURISTICOS.

any tourists locations.

 

AL SALIR A DAR UNA VUELTA POR EL LUGAR ENCUENTRAS MUCHA GENTE

To go out for a ride to any location you see many people

NECESITADA,  LOS NINOS SE TE ACERCAN Y TE PIDEN DULCES,  DESPUES NOS

in need.  The children approach and ask for candy,  Later we

ENTERAMOS QUE EN LA DOTACION DE ALIMENTOS QUE LES ENTREGAN POR

entered a store they provide for

FAMILIA NO INCLUYEN ( OBVIAMENTE ) DULCES.   LOS CUBANOS MANEJAN SU

families that obviosly don’t include candy.  The Cubans run the

ECONOMIA FAMILIAR MUY DIFERENTE A LA NUESTRA, A ELLOS LES ENTREGAN

family economy (budget) much different than ours.  For them they recieve

UNA ESPECIE DE CERTIFICADO CON EL CUAL PASAN A LAS TIENDAS DEL

a special certificate the people take to a government grocery store.

GOBIERNO  ( CABE MENCIONAR QUE EN CUBA TODO ES DEL GOBIERNO) Y LES

(All things in Cuba is owned by the goivernment) and they are ENTREGAN DEPENDIENDO DE LOS INTEGRANTES DE LA FAMILIA UNA

issued the certidicates depending on how how many members are in ones family.

 

DOTACION LA CUAL ELLOS CONSIDERAN SUFICIENTE DE ARROZ, FRIJOLES,

considers is sufficient amounts of rice, beans,

TOSTADAS, PAPEL SANITARIO, JABON  Y ALGUNOS OTROS ARTICULOS DE

tostadas, toilet paper, soap and other articles

PRIMERA NECESIDAD.

of primary need.

 

POR LA MISMA NECESIDAD DE LA GENTE EXISTE MUCHA ECONOMIA INFORMAL

At the same time it is neccesry for people to exist in an informal economy.

FAMILIAS QUE TIENE FONDAS EN SUS CASAS Y QUE SI QUIEREN UNA

Familias who have restaurants in thier houses, and if you want a personal

RECOMENDACION PERSONAL SON EL MEJOR LUGAR PARA COMER PUES LA

recommendation, they are the best places to eat because

COMIDA ES TIPICA, LIMPIA Y DE MUY BUEN SAZON.

the food is typical Cuban, clean and tastes very good.

CONFORME PASEAS POR LA HABANA SE TE ACERCA MUCHA GENTE,  UNOS TE

On government approved tours through Havana many people approch you.  Some

VENDEN PUROS, OTROS MONEDAS ANTIGUAS OTROS MUCHOS TE INVITAN A SUS

sell you cigars, others sell old Money and others invite you to thier

CASAS A PROBAR LA QUE ELLOS DICEN ES LA MEJOR COMIDA DE LA HABANA Y

homes to taste, what they say, is the best food in Havana and

LA MAS BARATA…. EN FIN TODOS HACEN EL INTENTO DE GANAR UNOS

the least expensive…..Finally they all do what they can to make a few

DOLARES POR SU CUENTA.

dollars for their savings.

 

FUIMOS AL CENTRO DE LA HABANA,  A UN MUSEO  AUNQUE SIENDO OBJETIVOS

We went to the center of Havana, to a museum that all the objects are

TODO CUBA ES UN MUSEO,  EL TAXISTA FUE MUY AMABLE Y SU PEQUENISIMO

Cuban.  The taxi driver was very friendly. His tiny

AUTOMOVL NOS LLEVO RAPIDAMENTE,   PLATICANDO CON EL CHOFER

automobile took us very quickly.  Talking to the  driver

RESULTO SER MEDICO;   SEGÚN HEMOS ESCUCHADO EN CUBA HAY MUY

Resulted in he was a doctor He also said in Cuba the doctors are very good.

BUENOS DOCTORES LE COMENTAMOS AL CHOFER ,   AL CUASTIONARLO SOBRE

 

EL PORQUE TRABAJABA COMO TAXISTA SOLO NOS COMENTO QUE NECESITABA

When we asked the taxi driver why he was working as a taxi driver he said he needed TRABAJAR  (  DE LO QUE SEA  )  PARA RESIBIR SU CERTIFICADO DE ALIMENTOS Y

To work to receive the food certificate

LE PAGAN  20 DOLARES AL MES  ADEMAS PARA OTRAS NECESIDADES,   Y SI EN

And they pay him $20 a month for other necesitéis.

SU PROFESION NO HAY TRABAJO  CUALQUIER OTRO ES BUENO PARA

There is no work in his medical profesión and he has to do anything to

SOBREVIVIR.

survive.

POR LAS NOCHE EN EL HOTEL  EXISTE UN  PEQUEÑO BAR MUY AGRADABLE EN

At night we went to a very small bar in the hotel that was very nice with a live group that play

EL QUE TOCA UN GRUPO QUE PONE MUCHO AMBIENTE,  ADEMAS LOS MOJITOS (

Buetiful music and we drank Mojitos, a Cuban drink

BEBIDA TIPICA EN CUBA)  SON BUENOS.   DESPUES DE IR 3 NOCHE SEGIDAS AL

Alter going to the bar three nights in a row

BAR  LOS MUCHACHOS DEL GRUPO YA NOS CONOCEN Y NOS SALUDAN AL

The guys in the group got to know us and would greet us

LLEGAR,  EL VOCALISTA DEL GRUPO  EN UNO DE LOS MOMENTOS DE DESCANSO

when we arrived.  On night the groups vocalist sat at a table close to us to sell the groups CD.

SE ACERCA A LAS MESAS A VENDER DISCOS GRABADOS POR ELLOS MISMOS

at a table close to us to sell the groups CD

CON SU MEJOR REPERTORIO,  LO INVITAMOS A TOMAS ALGO Y SE SENTO UN

We invited him to have a drink with us and he

RATO CON NOSOSTROS.

later sat with us.

MI ESPOSO INSISTE EN SABER SOBRE LA FORMA DE VIDA DE LOS CUBANOS Y LO

My husband insisted to know what form of life the Cuban people had and he questioned him.

CUESTIONA SOBRE EL ASUNTO,   LO UNICO   QUE NOS CONTESTA ES QUE ESTA

The only thing he would say was he was very.

FELIZ PORQUE  VA A VER A SU MAMA;   EL ERA DE MATANZAS  (  UN PUEBLO A

happy because he was going to go see his mother. He was from Mantanzas, a pueblo about

MEDIA HORA DE LA HABANA)  Y DESDE QUE TOCABA  EN EL HOTEL  HACIA DOS

a half an hor outside of Havana, and since he started playing at the hotel it had been two

ANOS  NO HABIA VUELTO A SU PUEBLO,  RESULTA QUE AUN DENTRO DE LA

years since he had returned to his pueblo. The result is that inside

MISMA ISLA A LOS LUGARENOS NO LES ESTA PERMITIDO TRASLADARSE DE UN

the same island the locals are not permitted travel from one

PUEBLO A OTRO Y PARA VIAJAR A OTRO LUGAR AUN DENTRO DE CUBA

pueblo to another or a trip to another location in Cuba

NECESITAN UN PASE DEL GOBIERNO.

without a governemnt approved pass.

NO LO  PODIA CREER QUE DIFERENTES FORMAS DE VIDA Y DE PENSAMIENTO

I couldn’t  believe the different forms of life and thinking exist.

EXISTEN,  CADA VEZ ME CONVENCIA MAS QUE MI ESPOSO TENIA RAZON  ES

I’m convenced more that my husband had a good reason

BUENO CONOCER OTRAS CULTURAS Y OTROS PENSAMIENTOS…

to learn other cultures and ways of thinking.  .

VALORAS MUCHO LO QUE TIENES.

Value what we have very much

DESPUES DE 4 DIAS EN LA HABANA  NOS FUIMOS A VARADERO,  LAS PLAYAS

Alter 4 days in Havana we went to Varadero, the beaches

SON BONITAS Y VES GENTE DE MUCHOS PAISES… LAS TOP LESS  ANDAN POR

Are beutiful and you see people from maní other countries. The topless walk

TODOS LADOS FELICES DE LA VIDA Y EL SOL,   LA MASAJISTA DEL HOTEL TIENE

Every where and are happy with life and the sun.. The hotel massueses have

MAGIA EN LAS MANOS Y SALES RENOVADO DESPUES DE UNA SESION CON ELLA

Magic in their hands and you leave renewed after a sesión with her

Y LA IGUAL QUE TODOS  LOS CUBANOS  SON MUY AMABLE….  AL DECIRLE

And the same with all the Cubans they are very kind. When we tell them

NUESTRA NACIONALIDAD  ME PIDE  UN FAVOR:   LLEVAR UNA CARTA CONMIGO

Our natuionality they ask me for a favor. To take a letter with me

Y YA FUERA DE CUBA ENVIARLA POR CORREO A UNA DIRECCION PREVIAMENTE

And outside of Cuba  send it by mail to an address previously

ESCRITA EN EL SOBRE.   ME SORPRENDI MUCHO AL SABER QUE TAMBIEN EL

written in the envelope  I was surprized to find out that the

GOBIERNO CONTROLA SU CORRESPONDENCIA Y ANTES DE SALIR DE LA ISLA

Government controls your correspondence and before leaving the island

CUALQUIER DOCUMENTO ES LEIDO Y AUTORIZADO  (  SI ES QUE LO AUTORIZAN)

Any documents are read and authorized. (if they athorize it)

PARA SALIR DE LA ISLA….  TOMO LA CARTA  Y COMO ME LO PIDIO  UNOS DIAS

To leave the island. I took the letter the way he asked and days

DESPUES LA ENVIO POR CORREO.     PARA MI TRANQUILIDAD PIENSO YO, ELLA

later I mailed. For my own tranquility she

MISMA ME LEYO LA CARTA QUE IBA A TRASLADAR,  EN REALIDAD NO ENTENDI

Herself read the letter that was going to be translated. In reality I didn’t understand

PORQUE TANTO MISTERIO SI ERAN SOLO SALUDOS Y NOTICIAS FAMILIARES A

Why there was so much mystery  if it’s only salutations and family news to

UNA PRIMA DE ELLA QUE VIVE EN ESTADOS UNIDOS.

To a cousin of hers who lives in the United States.

 

AL FINAL NOS QUEDO MUCHA ENSENANZA DEL VIAJE:   LA ISLA ES PINTORESCA,

Finally we learned a lot on the trip. The island is picturesque

LAS PLAYAS BONITAS Y SU GENTE MUY CARINOSA.  AL FINAL MI ESPOSO TENIA

The beaches are beautiful and the people are very loving. At the end my husband had

RAZON  FUE UN VIAJE HISTORICO   COMO HISTORICA ES CUBA Y APRENDIMOS A

A good reason to take this historic trip. Because it’s Cuba’s history we learned to

VALORAR LA LIBERTAD DE ELEGIR, TRABAJAR Y PENSAR DIFERENTE.

value the freedom we choose, and work and think differently.