|Bayamo, capital city of Granma province aka 'The Sharktooth of Cuba'*|
Though we talked about everything, I held back when it came to Juan. They were edgy, urban intellectuals, he was a jock from the beach. I am ashamed to admit it now but I was afraid they would judge me, I was afraid they would judge him. I told them I was coming back to Cuba and that I would see them in Havana. I told them first I'd be going back to the resort from my previous trip but I was vague about why.
When we arrived in Havana my dilemma grew. I wanted to meet them, to move our online talks into reality but I was scared to have my two worlds collide. I was scared that these people who knew the intellectual snob version of me would never approve of my mingling with a mere entertainer from a resort. I was scared that they would take one look at us and laugh at the absurdity of the situation. But as my time in the city started to draw to a close, I knew I had to face my fears...so I gave them a call and invited them over.
With all the coming and going of neighbours and friends in and out of the apartment, I figured a couple of my friends in the mix wouldn't make a difference. But Juan and his cousins were not impressed. And they were worried. They tried to explain to me that Cubans don't just get on the internet and make friends with foreigners without an agenda. That people in Havana are on the make and a naive tourist like me is exactly who they are looking for. I explained that they were actually from Bayamo...this made a small dent in their argument, they felt that southern Bayameros could be trusted slightly more than northern Habaneros...but still, they wanted to formally assess these internet chatters for themselves before letting them near me.
When Pedro and Olivia arrived they waited outside the apartment while Odalkys went downstairs to
Pedro and Olivia passed the test and were allowed, but not exactly welcomed, into the apartment. They joined me at the kitchen table and Juan, after a brief and cold hello, went to sit with his cousins in front of the TV in the living room. The three of us sat around the table, trying to make conversation while attempting to ignore the hostile atmosphere emanating from the living room. Finally I couldn't stand it any longer...
'This is really weird. I'm sorry that they're being so unfriendly. Do you want to get out of here?'
They both exhaled huge sighs of relief and whispered yes in exaggerated tones. We gathered our stuff and headed for the door, me stopping to tell Juan that we were going out for a drink. Without unsnarling his face or saying a word, he let us know that he would be joining us. A few minutes later, three relieved friends and one grumpy wet blanket headed out into the balmy Havana night looking for a drink...
|The not so bright lights of Havana at night|
*Granma province is not actually known as 'The Sharktooth of Cuba', I just thought it sounded cool