Far from home

Cuban spread

WE PASSED 15 years of matrimony last month and had planned on spending a few days on the Pacific sands to mark the happy event, but it never happened.

My dental work intervened, not just the visits to the dentist but the cost too, which took a good chunk out of the checkbook. Sure, we could still go to the beach, but the moment has passed, plus it’s hot as hell there right now.

We decided to just “celebrate” with a nice meal at a Cuban restaurant in the state capital. The restaurant offers a “Cuban banquet,” and we ordered that … for two.

That was last weekend. The banquet is quite good. The only beef I have with it is they plop everything on your table at the same time. It should come in stages, especially the warm dessert.

We’ve also eaten Cuban food in Cuba, of course, and it was good, but I wouldn’t recommend visiting Cuba. It’s depressing.

Lying in bed this morning before dawn, I was thinking about the United States where I was born and where I have not set foot in eight years. I likely will never set foot there again.

Years of separation, living in a very different society, affects your mind, your viewpoint, your perspective and so on. I’m sure that a visit now would be jarring.

The Germanic efficiency, the rules, the regulations, the cops who actually pay attention to your speed, the need to watch your mouth, be “sensitive.” Indeed, the entire humorless, asexual, multicultural mess that exists up there.

Don’t think I’d care for any of it.

I would enjoy a New Orleans snow cone and beignets on the banks of the Mississippi. But I would reel at prices that would seem stunning due to the exchange rate of the last few years and my no longer having access to dollars.

But mostly it would be a thump to my psyche.

Most Americans who live down here appear to flee back over the border on a regular basis, avoiding that thump.

I have no plans to return, ever.

Not to America. Not to Cuba either.

26 thoughts on “Far from home”

    1. Ricardo: It’s a mixed blessing. Basically, I just feel out of place.

      However, I do speak Spanish almost exclusively. My English is mostly reserved for the internet.

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  1. I have been back for specific reasons, usually to see friends. Culture shock doesn’t begin to describe it for me. I go to my hometown and can’t even figure how to get around there anymore. The consumerism and competition between people baffled me. I see one more trip maybe next year, but I don’t even like the plane ride to just Phoenix. Too busy, busy, busy …

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      1. They won’t…scared. Silly people. Family comes down so that is not a problem. Too much to see and do in Mexico to go to the States unless it is something very important. Turtle hatching on the coast and Copper Canyon this year for me so far…

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        1. Peggy: So let them stay scared. In my opinion, we already have too many down here. Gringos that is, not your friends. Copper Canyon, eh? My last ex-wife and I overnighted there once back in the 1980s. There was no tourist train back then. You got on the regular passenger train in Los Mochis and headed to Chihuahua. We were not intending to spend the night on the rim of the Copper Canyon, but when the train stopped there for a few minutes, right next to the hotel, we got off and checked in. The hotel was unoccupied except for one other family. The next day we caught the same train on up to Chihuahua. It was all pretty primitive. I hear the entire experience has been gussied up now.

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  2. Recognized the Cuban food as soon as I saw it. Had plenty of that in our 10 days in Miami. Now in Kingsport, Tennessee, where our grandbaby is. I know Cuba will be depressing, but Steve and I do want to go there, eventually. Haven’t set foot there in almost 55 years. We plan to go there on a cruise that stops in four or five different ports. Maybe next winter. Have a great day, Felipe.

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    1. Teresa: I didn’t even know cruise ships went to Cuba. Lots of folks say Cuba is great. Most of them spend their visits in Fidel’s pretend Cancún called Varadero. That and/or they’re simply clueless admirers of communism. Plenty of that going around for a long, long time.

      Our trip was interesting. I’ll give it that. Once was enough. We won’t go back. There is also the ticklish issue of the fact that visiting Cuba, and by necessity leaving money, is helping the oppressive regime stay in power.

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  3. Agree with our comments about Cuban food and Cuba, Food great, Cuba right now a hellhole. The three times I’ve been back were spent mostly asking people “How can you guys stand this, and just sit around complaining?,” with no coherent answer forthcoming, just shrugs. The same thing could be asked of the North Koreans I guess. Or the Russians.

    You once said that San Miguel had great restaurants but Morelia is not too shabby at all in that department.

    Good luck with your teeth. Thursday I’m going in for the semifinal sitting for a tooth implant that has taken over a year.

    Still working on Disqus. Must be the only person who can’t make it work.

    al

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    1. Señor Lanier: I’m sure that “rising up” in a dictatorship sounds easier in theory than it does to individuals living in those dreary places. Easier said than done.

      As for restaurants in Morelia, yep, got some goodies. But San Miguel’s offerings are more varied by a long shot due to the foreigner influence.

      I don’t understand why a tooth implant would require such a long time. You’re the second person to tell me something similar. Mine was wham-bam-thankyou-ma’am. After it was obvious I needed one, my dentist sent me to a business that specializes in tomography, a specific sort of X-ray. That ran me 700 pesos. A couple of days later, I returned to my dentist’s chair while he took a look at the tomography, which was on a CD. All looked doable, so an appointment was made for the following week, which was last Friday. It was completely done that day, 2.5 hours reclined, and now I have the implant. No redness, no discomfort, and all is well.

      And as for Disqus, easiest thing in the world. Type your comment in the space, and then hit the Publish button. Of course, you have to register for your free Disqus account first, but that’s easy. You must be the only person in the world that can’t make it work. Ask any teenager for assistance.

      And Disqus is pretty much required if you want to mouth off on the internet these days.

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  4. The exchange rate. Tru dat. And I wouldn’t get on a plane for love nor money these days. Home is our destination, terrible as “they” might make it sound. We have adapted within certain bounds. I learned a lot having lived in Belize a spell and having lived summers in Canada for 17 years. I can debate all sides of living NOTB and SOTB.

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    1. Carole: Oh, there’s plenty to be said, pro and con, for both sides of the border. But I’ve put my eggs in the one basket that sits south.

      As for planes, I won’t ever be on one that goes to the U.S., or even an American carrier. If you fly other places and other airlines, it’s not so bad, I hear. The last time we flew was to Havana in 2012 on Interjet, a Mexican airline. It was a totally pleasant experience.

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  5. Congrats on 15 years of marriage. I figure if you last the first 3 years without killing each other you’re probably a good fit. Went to a wedding in Cuba a few years ago and will never go back. The poverty is oppressive — kind of like India where I took my spouse on our honeymoon. I know Mexico’s got its share of poverty too, but I guess we don’t see it as much, or refuse to … not sure which. Anyway we love Mexican food more than Cuban. As for the USA, I haven’t been there for over 30 years. We just fly over it on our way to Mexico. I believe the whole Western world is eroding and has been for decades. Europe is not what it once was. Not much joie de vivre there anymore. We went there to visit my wife’s Swiss family plus friends in Germany and a cousin in France a couple of years ago. Everyone’s so serious now I couldn’t believe it. Their electronic devices were constantly beeping with text messages, etc. I really don’t know what’s happened to their society. Canada’s no better. People running around like rats or sitting for hours in gridlock just to get to jobs they cannot stand. I could go on and on, but I don’t want to bore you. Plus we’re on Isla Mujeres and the beach is calling.

    https://www.infowars.com/study-majority-of-americans-believe-u-s-losing-its-culture-and-identity/

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    1. Brent: I’m not sure about your theory of making it three years in a marriage, and that means it’s probably okay. I made it three years and more with my first two wives, considerably more with No. 2, and they sure didn’t pan out well. My theory is that if you wed often enough you’ll finally get it right.

      As for there being lots of poverty in Mexico, it’s less than one might think. It’s often simply that people live here differently, more like the standard of living above the border 100 years ago. It’s less poverty than it is simply different, another era. A middle-class family in Chicago in 1910 would look really pathetic by today’s standards, and we judge be today’s standards. That’s not to say there are not very poor people here, there are, and they are more numerous in southern Mexico. The farther south you go, the worse it gets.

      Yes, Europe is a mess, and the United States won’t be far behind, even with Trump in the Oval Office. He might slow things down a bit. That’s all.

      Isla Mujeres, eh? Never been there. Have fun.

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  6. I have never been to Cuba but I am well acquainted with Cuban cuisine. Tampa, Florida has a large Cuban community called Ybor City for over a century. Thousands of Cubans emigrated to Tampa to work in cigar factories in the early 1900s. Tampa was the headquarters for the mafia don Santos Traficante.

    I haven’t been back stateside for eight years either and I have no plans on leaving Michoacán.

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    1. Andrés: The best meal we had in Havana, and we had it twice, was lobster at an incredibly low price. Yum.

      You have no plans to leave Michoacán? Well, I do, but I have no plans on returning to Gringolandia. That’s for sure.

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  7. I think you’re onto something about the likely culture shock of returning to Gringolandia. Heck, after a mere 8 months in Mexico City, it was a bit surreal returning to Boston and “all that.” Mexico and the USA are really TOTALLY different places, and it’s no wonder they don’t understand each other.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Redding, CA
    Where we are becoming quite proficient at selling giving away old junk on Craigslist.

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      1. Have you guys read The Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz? It’s long and sometimes kind of a slog, but a very interesting study of the “Mexican character,” including the differences between the U.S. and Mexico. Paz got the Nobel for it, and it’s considered one of the masterpieces of Mexican literature.

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        1. Señor Lanier: Many, many years ago I tried to read that book, but I bogged down posthaste. Maybe I should try again, but I likely will not for that which you mention. Sometimes it’s a slog. It seemed to start out a slog if memory serves. As for the Mexican character, I’m quite surrounded by it, at times to excess.

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