Ode to a Friend, Yanira Punales
Today’s blog is a story about a dear friend of mine in Cuba. Yanira Punales from the beautiful city of Matanzas. I discovered this lovely city in the last few months of my stay in Cuba 2019….I can’t believe it’s been almost 2 years since I’ve been there. It’s almost like a second home for me, and the people have adopted me as such. It had a dramatic influence on me in many ways, culturally, its cuisine and history. I like to think of it as perhaps one of the last vestiges of the old world….kind of like the way things used to be. In 1957 the government was overthrown by Fidel Castro, and basically everything stopped for them. I found, while being there, it was much like how things used to be, as I remember them in childhood. I’ll let Yanira explain this in her own, touching words. Yanira is a lawyer by education, but like many Cubans, abandoned her profession for the tourism industry. Why? The salary for a lawyer in Cuba is a whopping $50 per month!! In tourism, as a front desk concierge, she earns double this. Here are some images from the Hotel Velasco, Matanzas Cuba. A four diamond luxury hotel in the heart of the city.
All this is very true. We were rich and we didn’t know it! I was born and raised in Matanzas province, , Cuba .I didn’t have gender perspective education! We had even heard the term… It was all very simple, things were the way they were. You were a girl or you were a boy!! And the boys with the boys and girls with the girls!! But we all played together.. Lol! That bullying thing didn’t exist either… we called the fatty fatty, we called the skinny, SKINNY, black we called black From my friends to this day I don’t think anyone has had a very big disorder for that issue. In our childhood there was no drama, because situations were cut in the bud. Slate and clean slate. If you behaved badly they gave you a strap and if you were spoiled a mask. Kids didn’t argue with their parents, parents were law and authority. Cousins were your brothers and schoolmates, your cousins, teachers were models; and woe to the one who disrespected them! They taught me to say hello, to say goodbye, to say thank you not to lift us off the table until the adult was lifted to ask for permission to get up if you had an emergency We went out to play street all together, quite an adventure. We ate what our moms cooked PERIOD! We ate rice with beans and egg, meat with fries, rice with sausage, flour and viandas. We played: Al Pon, the wheel rolls, alanimo, the blindfold, turn it on for sweet, the pint bird, the yackis, rice con leche, the hideout, the quimbumbia, thief and police, the houses, a Chivichanas, gunmen, donkey, sack riding, Swiss, Chinese sticks, dolls, football, and others. We were striking out with rubber balls and tape playing ball! (Ball in the street females and males together and without complex). We could walk up and down or ride our bikes and go to a friend’s house. We weren’t afraid of anything and respected our elderly. And we helped them cross the street and bring them errands. We were taught to Love God respect for others and for other people’s property. As a child , it wasn’t spoken if an adult was talking and if by chance you did they gave you a mask saying: You talk when chickens piss! If anyone had a fight it was a fist fight. Kids had no guns when we grew up, except fulminating gun to play cowboys! The girls with dolls. As we enjoyed!!! When it was dark we knew it was time to enter. Every once in a while we would stay out to talk about the cuckoo or scary stories. We loved going to school because we had love, affection and respect for teachers and we had the joy of seeing our friends. The one who disrespected a teacher! There was no technology available, but with the help of adults we built wooden cars and skateboards…. We were entertained watching local TV programming. We read children’s books and on Sundays we had neighborhood cinema with matinee early on. We looked around, out of the mouth of our elderly we listened to stories and advice because we knew that if we disrespected an adult they would get a spanking, a ribbon, with the flip flop or with a peel ! We were rich (still in our poverty) and we didn’t know it, we had the best childhood and realize it now, the education and correction we had never compares to the current one. Let’s take care of our CHILDREN and GRANDKIDS of a declining society. If you agree Re-post. changing where you grew up. If you’re proud of you coming from a family together. Repost and never forget where you came from! How I miss those days… Very true… TIMES that WILL NEVER COME BACK!! PROUD where I come from!!!
Well said, Yanira my dear! This really rang clear for me, so much truth and honesty. What has happened to us, may happen to them. There isolation from the rest of the world, in many ways has been a blessing to Cubans. My fear is that they will lose this. It’s definitely not a perfect society, economy has forced them into being creative in many ways, but has also caused a lot of petty crime. In addition it still is very much a misogynistic culture. Not in a violent way, but woman unfortunately bear the brunt of the poverty and neglect in Cuba. Just about every woman I know in Cuba is separated or divorced with children. Not that we don’t have this issue here, but in a different way. What I admire about Cubans is there sense of community, and values….something we have seem to have lost. Anyway, enjoy your Saturday, and remember to be kind, loving and thoughtful in all your engagements. Cheers!