Is saying goodbye to dear ones different for me in Cuba, since I’ve only known these folks for days? Yes and no. The moment of meaning can be just as deep here as with someone I’ve known for years. The time shines … or it doesn’t.
Hector is one of the attendants at the gym in the village beside my hotel. He’s a young guy, very enthusiastic, without much English. He’s let me know, however, that he’s impressed with me working out in my 60’s. He figures that most Cuban men don’t lift a finger past 40. Hector has helped me understand some of the strength training machines, such as how to adjust the torso twist. All done with a huge smile.
Yesterday, he played American songs on his iPhone as I was doing yoga. While lying on my back, I was singing Elvis’ “Jailhouse Rock”, with all four feet and hands dancing in the air. Hector laughed. And I’m pretty partial to anyone who laughs at me.
I had money in my pocket for a tip and something inside told me I needed to give it to him right then. He was so happy to receive the gift, and then told me he was about to leave for a week’s vacation. Thank goodness I followed my inner guidance. I’ll miss him.
Last night, Elisabeth was serving me in the lobby bar. What a sweet person, endlessly animated in the eyes. She told me she was about to go on a week’s vacation. Oh, the sadness. I asked her where she lived. She said Santa Clara, a three-hour bus ride away. Six hours of commuting a day! She talked again about her husband, and of Jody. We both love our spouses so much. Now she gets to spend a week with him. We said how much we’ll miss each other. We held hands. We hugged. We said goodbye.
Now it’s a day later, and I’m back in the lobby bar. Celida, a waitress who’s served me several times, comes up and asks “Do you miss Elisabeth?” “Yes.” (So much) Celida then said “She talked about you. She loves you.” I started crying. How can a 20-year-old Caribbean woman move me so much?
Two young Cubans whose lives are very different from mine. And just the same.