Enduring Cuba by Zoë Brân
I received this book from a friend who just came from a tour of South America and Cuba. He found it a useful read and when he came to visit us last year he thought it was ok to pass it on to me.
I haven’t visited Cuba yet and my knowledge of the place reflects ideas absorbed via stories, films rather than my own reading experiences. The stories I have heard from visitors are split in two categories the all-inclusive version and the “I am trying to see the other side of Cuba” version. Cuba seems like a place, which attracts people’s quick judgement. There are places of which we know nothing and we never mention them and then there are places of which we know little but we assume a lot, Cuba seems to fit this situation.
The book is an insightful journey. The author goes through some of the tourist and non-tourist places and creates an accurate rendition of what she sees and of the stories she is told. I found her very faithful to the plea of the people she encounters to not write false and bad things about Cuba. She doesn’t push her judgment on the stories she is told. She lets you decide what you want to do with them. I found her very neutral in taking a stand.
There are two areas, which linger on in my mind, now after a couple of months since I have finished the book. One is the interesting mix of Santería and Christianity. I found it fascinating how people reconciled their beliefs through a new imposed religion. It was something completely new to me of which I have not heard of before. I am looking forward to seeing it at some point in the future when we visit.
The second idea, which is not a new concept, more it is a realization of what happens with the loyalty to the Revolution with the passing of generations. It was possible and I imagine a lot easier to explain the restrictions of the newly established system to the generation that was the Revolution. They probably felt a rush which most of us will never experience: the feeling that you are making a difference on a large scale. I would imagine most of us could justify living with various limited freedoms when we know we were part of something bigger than us. This generation now is well over 60. The new generations find it hard to understand why things need to be the way they are when they did not experience the past first hand.
I have to believe that we can all understand and support each other in a community/society so that we can lead lives that are less materialistic and more selfless, build a better present and future for us, our families and the people around us. If it happens that we lose sight of these goals we can reeducate ourselves towards a better path. With this belief in mind I find it hard to swallow that the only way to bring a better society is through a system that relies on fear, restriction, supervision and control in order to achieve it.
Other things I am left with is a curiosity to go experience a place which feels full of passion and color and vibrates with contradictions all through a haze of smoke and music.