Swinging in the Tree

There were kids everywhere: squealing, running, sliding. Down in the Dumps told Nick and Vichika to organize a trip to the water park. So on Saturday morning The Nurse packed towels as she didn’t figure they would have any.

When we met the people-crammed mini-van Nick had arranged, he said, “No, they don’t want to go to the water park because it is too cold. They want to go to the playground by your house.”  IMG_6975Puzzled, I asked Vichika if any of the kids had been to the playground. She shook her head, “Only Noit,” who had stayed with The Nurse for a few weekends. She had told them about it and they were all suitably envious.

Once at the playground the kids took off in all directions. They had never seen anything like it and they weren’t going to waste any time. Slides, swings, jungle gym, this place has it all. One of the favourite attractions was a tree with vines. The little Tarzans took turns swinging and squealing.







A German woman and her baby came to the park. The dump people were fascinated with the white baby; the women took turns holding Hubert and the kids lined up to watch.IMG_6995

Then it was lunchtime. We asked what they wanted to eat. Vichika clapped her hands and said a few words in K’mai and 23 little kids appeared. She rattled off a few options and then said “hamburger.” Unanimous squeals of agreement. It was easier to bring the food to the kids than to take them to a restaurant, so off we went to get the burgers and some chips.

Back with the food, Vithika clapped her hands and the kids lined up, smallest to largest.IMG_7009  These tikes are amazingly well behaved: no pushing or shoving or name calling. But if a kid does something wrong s/he can be sure of a short, sharp smack from the nearest adult who may or may not be related.

On the way out of the playground we stopped at a mini-mart and got them ice-blockIMG_7022s.

As we waved good-bye when it was time for them to get back into the van we had an overwhelming number of thank-yous and “akuns.”

The DITD budget now sits at $346.06. The Nurse is going to take over and do projects with a focus on the kids. If I find something that needs doing in Cuba we can move the money around via Paypal. Thanks for helping make a memorable day for 28 dump-ites.



Headed for Havana

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. bandera-1_2479875

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. cigars--cuban_19-109921Still, 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.truck-unloading-in-havana--cuba_2640456

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.