Journey to Cuba Through the Eyes of a Friend

Baudelaire, in “The Invitation to Travel”, tells us about a country named Cocagua, that mythological land where sex could be freely obtained, the weather was always pleasant, the wine never ended, and everyone remained young forever. The text speaks of a singular country, “plunged in the mists of our North, and which we might call the East of the West, so that in it the ardent and capricious fantasy has spread, so that it has illustrated it, patient and obstinate, with its wise and delicate vegetations.

But reality is always richer than poetic fantasy. I was able to confirm this on the trip of a friend and his wife to Cuba, where they went on their honeymoon. If there it is not the mythological country of Cocanha, believe me, readers, it is better that way. “Cuba was something beyond my imagination,” my friend tells me. “Because of everything. Havana has preserved, historic architecture from the time of Spanish colonization. I saw children in the streets, but in school uniforms, doing physical education in the plazas.” Contrary to what the right wing says, he walked everywhere, free, without a guide and without fear of being robbed. Clean streets, no garbage. And he told me of his love from the moment he landed at the airport. “When the plane landed in Cuba, I felt a great emotion.  In Havana, everybody likes Brazilians. He, who knows some European countries, told me: “In the Old World I was discriminated against. In Havana I was loved. They welcomed me as a brother”.

 And as good as his words are the images that he sent me. Through his eyes, I came close to the memory of Ernest Hemingway, in the Bodeguita del Medio.

With his watchful eyes, I saw a portrait of Che Guevara on the living room wall of a house.

What a beautiful flagrant!

My friend and his wife went to the Buena Vista Social Club. There, when they heard that they were coming from Brazil, they sang and played. Under joy, the musicians from the band Legendários del Guajirito interpreted Aquarela do Brasil, as seen in this video.

Where, in Cocanha, could I present a cab driver with the shirt of Sport Club do Recife? My friend did this for me to a short driver, who has the face of my relatives. There is no greater proof that we are all brothers. How can I not say, with this gesture, that I was not in Cuba?

In a happy coincidence, the red-black colors remind Cubans of the 26th of July Movement, founded in 1954 by Fidel Castro against dictator Fulgencio Batista.  Look at Sport here

Finally, with my friend and his wife, I went to the library of the Centro de Información Antonio Rodríguez Morey in Havana. I was there, as you see:

Actually, at this hour I am still in Havana. It was good, it was great to go to Cuba through the eyes of the friend. I have been there, am there, and will be back.

Uriarano Moto is author of the novel “Never-Ending Youth.”