Saturday, July 26, 2008

July 26--Happy Independence Day, Cuba!

In 1953 Fidel Castro led a July 26th attack on the Moncada garrison in Santiago de Cuba. Although unsuccessful, it was the beginning of the end of the hated dictator Batista who was eventually overthrown years later in 1959. So July 26 is remembered as the start of the revolution. It's the day Cuba pulls out the stops to celebrate its national pride--like July 4 in the USA.

I joined the festivities in Cuba on July 26, 1998 with the Pastors for Peace Caravan. We--my husband and his 2nd son--received treatment worthy of diplomatic guests. Residing that week at a "vacation-reward" resort, we used some afternoon free time to break away from our delegation and wander the streets of Pinar del Rio. A short mile walk brought us into an ordinary Cuban neighborhood where the party-hearty rule reigned.

We foreigners attracted the attention of resident-celebrators who don't see U.S. citizens often. Instant friendship ensued, as Mr. B.E. and his son were soon jabbering away (I was Spanish-less then) while I enjoyed the non-verbals and their "fill-in-the-blanks" interpretation.

A highlight of the day, they explained, was the beer-truck which made the rounds of the neighborhoods. It dispensed beer from a large, rear, holding tank through a plastic delivery tube into assorted plastic buckets awaiting the liquid gold on each block. The party was BYOG--with "G" for "glass"--and the beer flowed freely. Glasses magically appeared for us; we were now one of the revellers.

"A photo?" I asked. BANG. No false shyness, no hesitation...the pose was immediate. The memory permanent. But Time fades all things. The slide (above) shows the storage-damage of Midwest heat and cold as I've left it, neglected, while I trapse about the planet. So thanks to my good friend Dada whose encouragement prodded me to retell the Cuba experience, this photo--so dear to me--now resides securely on the internet, impervious to future damage.

Happy Independence Day, Cuba!


Dusty said...

What a beautiful trip! I would love to go to Cuba. I did a lot of research on Cuba last year for an article..and found out lots of interesting how we used and abused Cuba for decades.

Randal Graves said...

Oh, dusty, we only did that because it's what they needed, like we do to all nations.

Randal Graves said...

Holy hell, I just noticed the message in the upper right. I think a hearty raise is in order! I'm sure Halliburton won't notice if I steal a few bucks.

dada said...

Well, this didn't help me any. I mean, talk about conservation - Cuba is light years ahead of us. Instead of 10,000 cars wasting gas, polluting the air and jamming the highways and byways -- all going to Albertson's and Safeways to get a twelve pack, the same thing is accomplished by a single beer truck making its daily neighborhood rounds!

Now that's what I call real "green" beer!

(Thanks B.E. for this one. Who's that handsome young man on the left in this photo? He bears a striking resemblance to Mr. B.E. Oh, that's right, you told us. That must be his son, huh?)

Border Explorer said...

Dusty, I know you'd just love the caravan. Meeting the other caravanistas was the best part. In Iowa, I almost always felt like the most liberal person the room. On the caravan...ooh, I was sooo middle of the road.

Cuba is very interesting. What a history. May God have mercy on our nation for our sins.

Border Explorer said...

Mr. Graves, perhaps we can work Cuba into the Jood platform.

Please don't worry about raising my salary. The side benefits alone are worth it.

Border Explorer said...

Yep, Dada, that's the family--minus his older son who didn't come along. (I'll have to pass your implied compliment along to Mr. B.E.).

Cars in Cuba are mostly rehabbed models from the '40's-'50's. So few of them! Reluctantly, I must mention that I don't think the beer truck was a daily event, more like special holiday (7/26) deal. Somehow I doubt that Batista inaugurated that custom, tho. (!)

enigma4ever said...

beautiful post and wow....what a trip.....(and dada is right- we need beer runs...that would make this alot more bearable...)

I would love to go there....someday...maybe all of us could...

memories may fade...but what is treasured never fades...

Border Explorer said...

"memories may fade...but what is treasured never fades..."

That is a lovely thought, enigma. How true.
If we all don't get to Cuba, maybe we could just do the beer part. You're so right that "a little more bearable" is a good thing sometimes.

Hey, thanks for being a good sport on the internship position. That's a big wink, you know. (But don't tell that to Randal. It would break his heart, I'm sure.) Actually you look a lot more like Gillian Anderson than I do, so you're much better qualified for the position than I am!