Tag Archives: cuban funerals

Best Cuba Posts Evah! (Sorta)

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Hola & Happy July 26th!

Maybe you’ve noticed I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus – ‘recharging the batteries’ as we say on this side of the Straits – and more importantly, trying to get my act in gear to write, to bite off the rest of my forthcoming book. Aiming to strike while the iron’s hot and all that.

In the meantime, some bloggers way more sophisticated than your humble, slogging-through-dial up protagonist, have invented this clever game of virtual tag whereby they tag Here is Havana making me “it,” inviting me to excavate oldie, but goodie posts that warrant reading.

These are not just pedestrian travel bloggers looking for free junkets and working the ad sense angle, but fabulously well-traveled women who have lived in Chile (in the case of Margaret over at Cachando Chile) and Moldova (in the case of Miss Footloose over at Life in the Expat Lane). What’s more, these chicks can write! I highly recommend checking them out. Also a big shout out to Camden of The Brink of Something Else for nominating Here is Havana (check out the killer shot of Havana taken from Regla – tagged as TBSE’s most beautiful post).

The categories were selected by whomever invented the game and include the “most beautiful,” “most controversial,” and “most overlooked” posts, among others, crafted over the two years of Here is Havana’s life. Have a click around, share with friends, spread the word…

Most beautiful: This was intended to be Chapter 1 of my book Here is Havana, but life has taken a left turn (as tends to happen here) and the book now has a life of its own (i.e. more a chronicle and a memoir than E.B. White’s Here is New York – my original inspiration). Any feedback on this would be greatly appreciated!

Most popular: My most popular post is actually my ‘About’ page but since that’s kind of flojo as we say in my neck of the woods, I suggest also checking out my second-most popular post about the wacky way Cubans speak.

Most controversial: The reaction to this post about Cuban fashion really surprised me – people came out with their elbows sharpened! Despite some of the wide-of-the-mark pop psychology, some of the comments are intriguing. See what you think…

Most helpful: This is a weird kind of category because what may be helpful to you, isn’t necessarily helpful to someone else, and what readers find most useful probably wasn’t the most useful to me (for those interested: the most helpful posts to me are those that help tease out the niggly snarls of cross cultural living, like this one about a visit to the USA and how it messes with my head and this one about always being on the outside looking in. These are closely followed by those posts trying to help me understand evolving Cuban reality, like the capitalist changes underway at present).

Clearly, though, tips for travelers to Havana and how to form a line in Cuba are among my most helpful posts for the general reading public.

Surprisingly successful post: Hands down, this is my post on dying in Cuba, Part I & Part II. There’s a real sadness to this ‘success’ – judging from search terms and other analytics, the folks that are searching on this term are family members living outside of Cuba who lost loved ones inside Cuba and are trying to figure out how to deal with the practicalities of that loss.

Post that didn’t get attention it deserved: At the beginning of 2010, as the wheels of change lurched along their inevitable track, I wrote about what Cubans were thinking, feeling and experiencing and how all these confusing emotions and intellectual gymnastics were affecting behavior. Worth a revisit – especially for those in faraway lands wondering: what the hell are they thinking over there?!

Post I’m most proud of: On the last day of February, 2010, I landed in Port-au-Prince with members of Cuba’s Henry Reeve Emergency Medical Contingent for a stint covering their earthquake recovery efforts in Haiti. For a month, I lived in a tent in their central camp in Port-au-Prince, with no running water, electricity only a handful of hours a day, crippling heat, and an internet connection 1,000 times more frustrating than my dial-up in Havana. Talk about learning experience….

TAG! Now, you’re it:

Bacon is Magic: HIH readers know I’m a chicharrones addict, so simply the name of this blog enamors, but Ayngelina also calls Guatemala “the most underrated country” after only a week. Sharp girl!

Fevered Mutterings, The Art of Unfortunate Travel: Funny, pull-no-punches mutterings by Mike Sowden.

Modern Gonzo: Robin Esrock has lots of companies sponsoring him, his own TV show, and is so well-traveled, he could be one of those ‘been there, done that’ assholes, but in fact is a totally cool, accessible, and down-to-earth guy.

Roving Gastronome: Mexico, Morocco, Queens, Cuba – Zora O’Neill, travel writer, cookbook author, and dinner party hostess-with-the mostest, takes you there and makes sure you eat well.

This Cat’s Abroad: Not updated nearly often enough for the talent and chutzpah exibited, this blog delivers a unique perspective by a woman living in Iraq (and now Kurdistan).

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Filed under Americans in cuba, Communications, Cuban customs, Cuban idiosyncracies, Cuban Revolution, dream destinations, Expat life, Here is Haiti, Living Abroad, off-the-beaten track, Travel to Cuba, Writerly stuff

Withdrawing from the Quote Bank

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I don’t know if it’s a writer thing or a girl thing or a human thing, but I can’t resist collecting and savoring juicy quotes. Maybe it’s my hidden hope that someday I’ll say something so profoundly witty or wise, poignant or ironic that it motivates someone, somewhere to write it down. Or perhaps I just need to procrastinate. That must be it – otherwise why this mango bajito post (see note 1) instead of something thoughtful about Cuban wakes or ham-in-cakes?

Maybe you’re procrastinating too, and I applaud you for landing here to peruse of some of my all time favorite quotes – each one of them coming my way by serendipity over the years: I’d just be poking along reading or listening to the radio when a nugget would jump out and snap me to attention. Nothing Googled here…

Mil pardons to all you readers craving something salient from over here in Havana today – even I have to step out of the Cuban vortex once in a while. But not to worry: posts on The Heat; Being Bilingual; and Baseball are coming soon. If you need a fix, why don’t you click over to my short novel forever-in-progress?

On Travel:

“Love is the food of life. But traveling is the dessert.”
– Singaporean saying

“The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait ’til that other is ready and it may be a long time before they get off.”
– Henry David Thoreau

On Wealth:

“If I can get a watch for $15 that keeps perfect time, what am I doing messing around with a Rolex?”
– Chuck Feeney (see note 2)

“In a way we could half envy you such fat, wasteful, thing-filled times.”
– Marge Piercy

On the Human Condition:

“What is madness but nobility of soul at odds with circumstance?” (see note 3)
– Theodore Roethke

“If you don’t have a strategy, you’re part of someone else’s strategy.”
– Alvin Toffler

“Being dumb doesn’t kill you, but it sure makes you sweat a lot.”
– Haitian proverb

“Get your head out of your ass and take a look around.”
– Judge D’Italia (Ret.)

“There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe and it has a longer shelf life.” – Frank Zappa

On Writing:

“Ronnie?! Ronnie is a dear friend and brilliant. You’re going to love him…He used to be exactly like you: all potential and no product.” (see note 4)
– Laura Kightlinger in Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman

“The chief glory of a nation is its authors.”
– Inscription, Andrew Carnegie Library (see note 5)

“I write everday to keep my neuroses in check. That’s why the novel will never die – it’s treating American mental illness.”
– Kurt Vonnegut

“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”
– William Faulkner on E. Hemingway

“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”
– Ernest Hemingway on W. Faulkner

Notes

1. Cogiendo el mango bajito is a Cuban saying meaning ‘going for the low-hanging fruit’ – in this case, the low-hanging mango.

2. If you need a new hero in your life, check out Chuck Feeney: The Billionaire Who Wasn’t. This guy made more money than Cuba has seen since 1959 (I don’t know that this is true, but it might be, he has made that much moola in his 70-something years) and started giving it away a few decades ago through his big-hearted philanthropy. Anonymously. Over time, he and his super smart co-conspirators decided to spend down the fortune which has converted him (unwittingly!) into the guru of giving-while-living.

All you m/billionaires reading Here is Havana: why don’t you start giving some to worthy causes? Start with 5% and work your way up from there. It won’t hurt, I promise, and might even feel good. The world could use ‘two, three, many Chuck Feeneys.’

3. Cuba, in a nutshell.

4. Have I mentioned my work forever-in-progess?!

5. I do think that quotable quotes can be useful tools for writers – as prompts or leaping off points for free writing, as motivation, and yes, for procrastinating – the monkey on every writer’s back. (Ironically, Andrew Carnegie’s essay Wealth was one of Chuck Feeney’s inspirations for his giving-while-living model. But Feeney has given even more than the venerable Carnegie: according to his biographer, Feeney’s philanthropy had granted $4 billion at the time of writing as compared to $3 billion – in 2000 terms – by Carnegie). Another quote inscribed in the Carnegie Library may have guided Feeney: “the highest form of worship is service to man.”

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Filed under Americans in cuba, Living Abroad, Writerly stuff