Maykel González Vivero

Maykel González Vivero

Photo: Maykel González Vivero

Miami is over, but there’s still Prague

“They’re going to leave anyway. There’s the custom of leaving. If since January they can’t enter the United States so comfortably, they’ll go somewhere else. Perhaps they’ll come over here.” Alberto Enrique says this. He’s writing now from a street in Prague. Last year, when the irregular Cubans were still let in at the U.S. borders, we met in the Czech Republic. We bumped into each other by chance. That’s when I started to understand why a Cuban community gathered in Central Europe, why a welcoming space was constituted here, what spirit sustains a policy of entrance only comparable to the one abolished by Obama in one of his last gestures in favor of the normalization. Alberto Enrique wore a top hat. In the background, hospitable, Saint Wenceslaus of Bohemia occupied the place of honor in the very square where student Jan Palach immolated himself during the Soviet invasion of 1968. “I know it’s a bit ridiculous,” he says pointing to the hat, “but it’s my uniform, and I wear it to earn money to eat.” The top says Guinness. It’s the beer propaganda, the dandy attire. “I lure clients for a restaurant, I can’t complain. I’m doing much better...

Leonardo Valdes: treasure hunter

Leonardo Valdes: treasure hunter

Finding a treasure has been one of people’s most appealing dreams throughout the ages. Because of that the belief in hidden treasures – the map that leads to an ‘x’, the happy sign that a ghost wants to hand over his loot – might be the most perjuring myth of island imaginary. There is nothing else that more beautifully expresses the persevering optimism of the guajiro. The drama of the poor man who does not accept his lot in life. It is also true that it refers, with a certain bitterness, to the distinctly Cuban irresponsibility of expecting everything from Providence. The drama of the poor individual who throws his lot in with magic. I met Leonardo Valdés in the town of Amaro, near Santo Domingo, in the centre of Cuba. I wanted to talk about something else but Leonardo was filled with enthusiasm at the mention of treasure maps. He heard ‘gold’ and his eyes lit up. He is 80 years old, and has spent the majority of this time hunting for treasure in the hills. How did you start out being a treasure hunter? In a place they class Yabusito. There was a man there who had lots...

Nikolis: A Ghost Ship Forgotten in Cuba

Nikolis: A Ghost Ship Forgotten in Cuba

Sagua la Grande Bay harbors more sunken than floating ships. When I finished putting together a list of the vessels that had disappeared in this area in over 150 years, a friend noted: "It's like another Bermuda Triangle!" It could be. The harbor is plagued with rocks and sand banks. Its main entrance is called the "Mouth of Wonders" - probably in reference to the wonderful feeling of finally reaching the shore after crossing the Sargasso Sea, or the scary Atlantic Ocean in times of Christopher Columbus, the wonders of success, of knowing they - the sailors - had reached their goal. The Nikolis showed up on a stormy afternoon. The crew requested permission to enter the harbor, but the authorities replied that they could not help them. Then the ship forcefully entered the bay anyways. The ship had come from Europe, where it was supposed to go back loaded with sugar. It is said that its abandonment was part of a plan that the Greeks crafted to charge the insurance. It was abandoned after a few months. Photo: Julio César Valiño Pérez The merchant ship had a nice structure; it had been commissioned by the...

ADVERTISEMENT