Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cuba, the warm country of warm-hearted people...

Wanna travel to another world? Go to Cuba!

Well it’s not quite another world. However, this warm nice beautiful piece of earth with its beaches, the deep blue of the Caribbean sea, its bright sun and its special people has been my exit from the everyday routine of life, already twice. If we decide to forget about all the worries and deadlines, and just take one week off life, Cuba is our special getaway. One week of warmth, quite, laziness…let’s get lost on the island!

But the whole “all-inclusive”ness of this trip aside, the Cubans amaze me. These not wealthy people have such rich souls. They are constantly singing, dancing, and looking happy. At least from what I observed, and I didn’t stay only at the resort. I went inside the cities, where the tours usually don’t take you. You cannot believe your eyes when you see the ruins in which people live. Not even caricatures of houses, literally ruins. A big metal/brick/cement cube, with square holes as the windows and a rectangular one as the door. Amazingly, this cube is colored: pink, green, blue, beige. From these cubes, come out girls, dressed in bright colors, beautiful and well figured, make up on face and nail polish (if not artificial cosmetic nails) on hands. Man and woman, cheerful and smiley, they wave at you or the other neighbor. You pass the door, not believing your eyes and sneaking a peek inside; there are flowers in a broken vase on an old table…

There are new apartment buildings though, and new cars. From what I understood, the car and the apartment are one’s property for life. Meaning that they are inherited and cannot be bought and sold, although people do it illegally. That’s why most of the cars on the road are left from the 40s and 50s. If you have enough money to buy a new car, or one of the newly built apartments by the government, first you have to prove where and how you earned this money. Then, you’ll have the car/apartment, and it’s yours for life again.

People are very smart, educated and most of them brilliant. There are doctors, dentists, scientists, engineers, who earn decent money, which means buying a pair of shoes can still cost one month of salary. That’s why so many of them turn to careers in tourism. At least there are "tips", and although they have to change the cash tips for their own money – again, so that "they" know how much one has earned – there are often other things: new and used clothes and shoes, toothbrush and toothpaste, soap and razor. Believe it or not, these are not easily available in stores for public. There are shares for each family, and the qualities are not so good. So they welcome the tips, though with such pride and greatness, that I haven’t seen in any other culture, so far. Least of all in my own people. Their reaction to the tips is someone’s reaction to a gift: thankful, righteous and proud. They don’t even dislike these rich lazy fancy-living tourists. Something I’m sure I would have definitely had, would I have been in their shoes. They live their lives fully, take advantage of the kind, drunk, in-a-state-of-peace-with-earth generous tourists, smile and enjoy the rest of the day; working or not, singing and dancing.

This distance I see between their attitude towards life and ours (as in easterners) is very interesting and in my opinion can be a subject of social studies. Why is it that in east, we tend to get more introverted, get depressed, and even expressing ourselves in poems and metaphores, and these people with their difficult lifestyles are so happy and joyful inside and out? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they are numb or don't see the differences between their lives and others', or they don't object any of the decisions which are made for them from up there in the system. In fact, the new generation have started showing "some" dissatisfaction which shows up gradually, very gradually in the system. What I mean is, some ego-culture-histori-geographical difference which I can easily observe between their and my own people's attitude towards life and its difficulties.

Thinking about all these differences, I close my eyes and enjoy the sunny beach with its pleasant see breeze...before I open my eyes and check the weather outside: grey, cloudy, cold and rainy. Good thing I took 500+ pictures :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Back to the present!

There are days in which all you can do is just keep breathing…
and breathing…
and breathing…
and after a while, you notice that you are living in the present, right now, neither regretting the past, nor worrying about the future. Too bad this doesn’t take long and you usually get back to your old self.

2009 was a strange year, so strange that it even dragged the weirdness with itself to 2010. It was the year of hopes which crashed to pieces, dreams which turned into nightmares, excitements which turned to nervousness. More than anything, it was the year of struggle.
I, and many others around me or close to my heart, had to struggle; to achieve some natural right; to keep some dreams alive; sometimes even to live.

I fought stubbornly at work. Too bad I couldn’t change my job; there were more than a couple of factors involved. The equation couldn’t be solved easily. The breath-taking fight led to an article in the end, although I was so tired that I couldn’t even enjoy the fruit of my plant.

Friendship was another major issue in my life during the last 15 months. It was one of the main subjects of my observations and thoughts. I found friends, lost friends, met friends, missed friends, made friendships, broke up some ties. I watched my friends going through struggles of their own. I watched friends of my friends, their relatives, and the strangers. I watched people of my country struggling. It was a dark era. I’m not going to write about it here and now... maybe some other time.

But then, in the middle of all this, I somehow survived. I went through the five stages of grief for my lost hopes and ruined plans: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I screamed and wept, worried and panicked, complained and nagged. Neither got anywhere, so I simply stopped. Now I look at the last 15 months as another part of my life. Nothing major has changed. Nothing big has happened. There is only one thing: since I’ve lost hope, I live much easier.