My Dance With Communism in Cuba

Written by  August 13, 2009

I just danced the merengue with a hard-nosed communist.

That shouldn’t have surprised me, I know. They dance to the same melodies as us capitalists and even socialists for that matter. Nevertheless, I am surprised to be resting in this elderly man’s cluttered, two-bedroom apartment in Cuba’s capital of Havana, eating a mango.

Now my friend is dancing with him.

We met Alejandro earlier today in a march through the centre put on by El Presidente himself.  Alejandro was walking alone through the crowd with several national flags in hand and more than a dozen army medals pinned to his tattered dress shirt.  “Down with imperialism!” he chanted, along with the rest.

He invited us here to get out from under the island’s blazing sun.  But before he ushered us into his living room where we would kick off our shoes and dance the merengue, and before he would lounge in his rocking chair with a large Cuban flag draped over his shoulders telling stories of la revolución, Alejandro showed us around his home.

He showed us the poetry he spends his nights writing, with a glass of rum close by, “mostly about Fidel, and my fellow socialistas.” He showed us the cigars his daughter rolled at her job at the cigar factory.  He showed us the abundance of ham in the freezer that he took home from his job at the ham factory.  And he showed us the rest of the refrigerator. Empty, save a mango.

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Published in Beyond the Guidebook
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Andrea Gourgy

Originally from Montreal, Andrea has a hard time staying in one place. After gaining a BA from Western and a Masters in Journalism from the University of Southern California, Andrea hit the road and never looked back. She has worked professionally as a journalist in six different countries, and earned several travel writing awards in the process. Andrea joined the Verge team in 2006.

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