Once again, food fills my thoughts.
I located some spaghetti last night, cooked to the same high standard I would have employed
as a first year undergraduate in my Hall of Residence. I felt glad to get it.
Most of the restaurants here are run by the government,
so the waiting staff resent actual customers, who come in and ruin their well-earned kip.
Sometimes, at night, I try to pass as a Cuban in the dark to avoid the cigar peddlars.
But I never bring it off. I can'to slow down to a real Cuban pace.
They´ve had a lifetime of practice at dawdling to nowhere in particular to do not
much of anything in order to be paid a packet of peanuts. I should have to post my legs
back to Trinidad to take up residence at a spacious period house in order to slow down
enough. However, European speed can be useful. Whenever a hustler comes up behind me
crying out "Hey amigo, where you from?", all I have to do is accelerate to a gentle
Sunday afternoon stroll, and he´ll soon be left behind, gasping and clutching his
chest, complaining that I no like the friendship of Cuban people.
But here is the real friendship of Cuba. When I arrived in Santiago,
it was late, and already dark. A bad time to wander around with a rucksack on my back and
two years average wages in my pocket. I went to a casa particular recommended by a
Belgian friend, but it was full. Time was getting on, and the night seemed suddenly
filled with doubt, and strange threatening shapes. But the owner of the casa smiled up at
me and said, come and we´ll see, and insisted on walking around with me until we
found a house with a free room, and I was sorted out. I have a lovely double room,
and a whole bath to myself. Santiago? Great town.