May 8, 2021

The Publisher speaks: Cuba off the tourist track

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Joan head NEWNow that relations between Cuba and the USA are to be normalised I thought this poem is appropriate. I wrote this a few years ago when I went to Cuba with a church group of mainly other women and it was way off the tourist track.

I have been to Cuba as a tourist and the difference was as chalk and cheese.

However, both were enjoyable and I found the Cuban people a delight even in their extreme poverty. Actually the more impoverished Cubans seemed to be themselves whilst the ones looking after the tourists seemed at times an act. The smiles were the same but not the eyes.


Chosen for a purpose

By Joan (Watler) Wilson





Man smoking cigarAny one for Cuba? – “Oh yes,” I said, “I’ll go,

But tell me more about it there’s a lot I need to know.”

“Well, we leave on 28th November at 4.30 pm,

So get your passage booked we must confirm to them.

And remember Jo you need a visa which is another $20 to pay.”

A visa?! Just to go to Cuba – such a short distance away!

Well, I booked my passage got my ticket there and then,

I was really eager not having been to Cuba since when.

So I made up my mind I was going on this trip

And it wouldn’t take long like going by ship.


woman-with-typical-clothes-and-a-huge-cuban-cigar-in-havana-cuba-1600x1066The final day came and I hardly had time to think.

I packed at the last minute before you could wink

Two outfits in my light bag that’s all I would need,

Just for a two-day conference and portraying a good deed.

Once through the hassle and a’port security

Checking smelly feet and shoes those guys did their duty.

In no time at all we’re at Jose Martes airport

Then comes the long lines and luggage to sort,

For a start there’s security and soldiers on duty everywhere

Searching and asking, if we had goods to declare.

But really and truly, all we had was a little gift or two

So after much dialogue they finally let us through.


cuban-food-recipesWe boarded a 30-seater bus with its engine already running

But of course we needed a ladies room before we got moving.

Now try telling that to a Cuban bus driver in English my dear

Our exchange of words didn’t help us much I fear.

“No speaky English” – “No speaky Spaniole” is all we understood

Until Evelyn and Raquel arrived to translate our few words so good.

With a us$1.00 for about 6 squares of toilet tissue

And two dozen people queuing was quite a tiresome issue.

I mean us$1.00 it cost to have a pee

But we’d paid $5.00 ’cause we were bursting you see

And anything to make money is the name of the game.

Such a beautiful island and the people just the same,

So humble and grateful for the little they’ve got

Takes us Caymanians way back to an island time forgot.

So with our first dollars spent and we’re sat on the bus

Racquel introduced herself and welcomed each of us.


Extranjeros-en-cuba4But we all moaned and groaned when she said,

“The journey will be 6 hours to Sancti Spiritus!”

I mean to say, I was shocked, as shocked could be

That’s a long time to sit still, especially for me.

And the bus was so narrow without hardly any space

It was so dark inside we couldn’t see our face,

But comments and laughter rang joyful and hearty

It was like being in a dark room enjoying a party.


Two hours of zooming and bumping, we finally came to a stop

Food and chips and drinks we could finally shop

And shop we did the break was really necessary

By now it was nearing midnight and we were somewhat weary.

And guess where I headed? – I’ll count to three,

That’s right you guessed it – I had to pee!

So I sifted through my purse to find the right note

And waited for my 6 squares after which she wrote,

“Muchus gratias,” she said, with a big smile across her face.

That again was worth a fiver as to the bus we raced.


Any way so much for the travelling that’s just one tale

We’re all so grateful the engine didn’t fail.

The church and its people gave us something to admire

The church was beautiful and so was the choir

With a band of brass and of course Cuban singing

Sweet serenades from long ago kept us swinging.

And when they sang, “onward Christian soldiers” in Spanish

We raised all our voices triumphantly in simple English.


Folks, I must say to you that the island of Cuba is so beautiful

It’s too bad that it’s ruled by those so dreadful.

When I say poor I mean really poor!

Things we take for granted they’re not at all sure.

Little necessities in life are few, no real luxuries at all

But they still believe that one day it will be better forall.


Note: I tried their Cuban coffee and got hooked on it – and I’m not even a coffee drinker!



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