The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) named Cuba one of the ten most censored countries in the world. I make no excuses for needing to see what this looks and feels like.
I’ll be doing so as a woefully under-informed US tourist later this week, so I’m under no illusion I’ll be able to see as deeply into the island’s infrastructure as I’d like or be creased as deeply as I’d prefer the Cuban wrinkle to go. But as much as this Yanqui is eligible to absorb — socially, culturally, and spiritually — is as much as I hope my heart can handle.
Cuban socialism under Fidel Castro, combined with the pervasive influence of American organized crime and corporate meddling before the Revolution, has generated a mythology I find irresistible. I hope to find I’m both right and wrong about things, and I certainly expect to discover new things and be wholly consumed. I look forward to being corrected and humbled. I can’t wait to dance. I’m going to take pictures of everything I see.
For 53 years the Cuban people have endured vilification, isolation, misinterpretation, and repression, but also transformation, tradition, and romanticized social preoccupations like music and baseball in the face of State-imposed electrical outages and food scarcity.
I plan to bring thank you gifts for my hosts, in whose homes I’ll stay. A friend with family there urged me to make sure I include some coffee, specifically espresso. “Oh, they have coffee there,” she explained, “but it’s rationed.”
So I look forward to having my expectations adjusted, as badly as if any further growth in my life would be ruled out otherwise.
More to come…