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Monday, May 23, 2005   By: Juan Paxety

A Canadian student's trip to fidel's workers paradise

After running across and reading an article in the Edmonton Sun, I hardly know what to say. It's here.  It's by someone named Patrycja Romanska, who says she's a Canadian.  Her byline says she's a freelancer. In her photograph, she looks mighty young, so maybe she's like 12 and stuff and I'm being like all judgmental and stuff. And stuff.

But that's never stopped me.  The level of general brainlessness and the condescension towards Cubans expressed in the article is simply astounding.

There are times when I feel quintessentially Canadian. Like being in Havana and feeling like something is amiss because there are no toilet seats or vegetables other than cabbage. Or being slightly scandalized because everyone butts in front of me in line. But in case there was ever any doubt, there were two particular incidents over the past few weeks when the fact that I am not from Cuba really struck home.

The first one was a musical variety night celebrating the tenth anniversary of some famous Cuban band. There were hundreds of Cubans that ranged in age from the very youngest to the very oldest. A half a dozen special guests, legendary jazz musicians, hip shaking Latino heartthrob-type crooners and people on stilts. (We haven't really figured why they were on stilts, but these things sort of happen in Cuba, so we just go with it.)

Did you maybe, like, uh, ask why the folks were on stilts?  Maybe it would have produced an interesting story - maybe even more interesting that what you wrote about. 

Later during the trip, she encountered a march.

Someone had told our student group it was an anti-terrorism march, and we don't really like terrorism. So we decided, by passive consensus, of course, to join our fellow University of Havana students in their demonstrating. If nothing else, we could probably get some flags, incomprehensible posters and other cool revolutionary paraphernalia to take home as souvenirs.

We were delighted to get red shirts emblazoned with a Fidel Castro slogan we didn't understand but were assured was quite profound, and immediately tried to make them fashionable by tying them in knots around our waists. We avoided looking overly radical by incorporating different colored undershirts and then stood around taking photos of each other against the background of large groups of agitated people dressed in red and waving flags.

I see. You don't really like terrorism, so you join a group of people who have been forced to participate in a street demonstration by the biggest terrorist in the Americas.  Then you show how you don't really like terrorism by getting some flags, some posters containing words you can't read, and other cool stuff you don't understand to take home.

I really don't know what to say.  Read the whole thing.

Update - I see she's old enough to get a speeding ticket when driving her car, so I guess that means she's older than 12.


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