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
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
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
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.