On December 10 I had lunch with my friend, Richard. He casually mentioned he had always wanted to go to Havana to write – sort of like Hemmingway – but whenever he planned the trip he got another book contract.
Eureka, as living overseas requires being able to exit on short notice. The expats here agree that the Kingdom has two to five years before it implodes. The immediate term, Plan A was to go to Madrid for three months, but it all became too complicated. Expensive. Have to sublet the apartment. So why not just keep going?
After an afternoon of Internet searching I told a few people that I’d decided to move to Havana at an art exhibit opening that evening. The next morning I rang my mother and then it was official. Even though she is half way around the world I can hear her eye-rolling tone of “There she goes again” voice. Still, I am closer to Canada and we are the only passport holders who can get six-month visas for the island of rum and cigars.
Ticket booked. Rental notice given. Suitcase, carry-on and baby-bag dusted. I haven’t been to Cuba since 1978, so it seems like a good time to revisit.
Then on December 17 Obama – or as my friend, Scott, calls him, “the pretend president” – announced that the relationship with Cuba was warming. What? Play happy neighbours given the Bay of Pigs and the embargo? After 50 years of being the bully in the sandbox America wants to kiss and make up?
Perhaps. But there will be opposition and it is unlikely that MacDonald’s and Starbucks will skive in any time soon. More likely Tim Horton’s from Canada will dive in with it’s weak coffee and sickly sweet donuts.
So on January 30 I hop on the plane and fly to Madrid and then on to Havana. I figure I might get more visitors from Canada. The Americans that show up will likely head for all-inclusive resorts where they can saunter up to the feeding-trough and swill down their chow with rum. I plan to live in the old part of central Havana, so I don’t expect to see a lot of them. My only concern is the strength of the Internet, as that is my work.
It promises to be interesting times. And, really, would I want to miss that? But if Rotten Ronnie shows up, there is always Peru or Ecuador.