Hasta siempre, Comandante!

13 04 2017

Scottish Wife and I got back from a 15 day visit to Cuba last week. We had a wonderful time in a fascinating country and have many tales to tell of the dynamics of the Cuban state and its people. There were a couple of constants, though: firstly, there was music everywhere we went, and secondly there were the slogans, some obviously state sponsored but many others daubed on walls or rickety posters. Many were in praise of Fidel Castro, but many others referred to ”el Comandante”, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara. I leave you to your own opinion about Che – after all, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist – but I do love this song:

In every city, town and village we visited we saw the iconic slogan ‘hasta la victoria siempre!’ (‘to victory, always!’), Guevara’s closing words in his farewell letter to Castro and the Cuban people, written just before he left the country for the Congo and Bolivia where he was captured and then killed by U.S. backed forces in October 1967.

My own favourite slogan, however, was one I saw written on a dilapidated cement factory wall just outside of Havana: ‘Aqui no se rinde nadie, cojones!’. I figured out that the first four words meant ‘no-one’s surrendering here’ and our Cuban guide Eric explained they were shouted at President Batista’s men by Juan Almeida when his men were surrounded by government forces during the Castro-led invasion of December 1956. Almeida was one of only 12 out of 78 revolutionaries to survive that particular battle, but went on to become an important part of the ‘Triumph of the Revolution’, when Batista was finally ousted in December 1958 and Castro took power.

“But what does the last word mean?” I asked Eric. “Ah, mi amigo,” came the reply, “That word is too rude for me to tell you!” So I looked it up – and if you want to know the answer, you’ll have to Google it too!

Viva Cuba y la gente cubana!

Dave B.

(P.S. I should mention that SW and I travelled on a tour organised by Tom Robertson of the Comox Valley. I can’t speak highly enough of the tour. Tom can be contacted by email at tom@cuba1tours.com or by phone at 1 877 334 0355. I’m not on a %age for endorsements – as far as I know, anyway!)

Viñales haircut

(Oh, and here’s the customary me-getting-my-haircut-in-another-country picture. The catch? The hairdresser has nipped out of the kitchen – yes, that IS a kitchen – for a minute and our bus driver Angel has grabbed the comb and scissors and is actually cutting my hair!)