In Cuba, my unknown homeland, published on January 3rd, 2010, a reader who signed under the name of Philipp, and who, because of the flag shown, must live in Germany, left the following comment on August 3rd, 2011.
“A question remains: this I don’t understand…How is it possible that you have a blog (meaning you have access to the internet) and that you don’t have the possibility of making a trip with Astro, staying at a private house for national tourists, or any of the other camping sites of the many that exist in your beautiful country?
“I imagine that keeping this blog is at least as expensive as a trip similar to the one I described.
“Traveling around Cuba I met a bunch of Cubans traveling through their own country, in fact I found more Cuban tourists than foreigners. Can you explain this please?
“Thank you very much, warm regards.”
Since my internet time ran out, preventing me from commenting on the blog, I e-mailed the comment to the independent journalist Tania Quintero. Tania lives in Switzerland as a political refugee and along with the Portuguese friend Carlos Moreira, does Iván and me the favor of administering the blog From Havana, in their free time and without charging us a cent. Thus, the explanation that follows does not refer to this blog, but to Laritza’s Laws, blog that I manage all by myself and that I cannot keep as updated as I would want.
Mr. Philipp: I don’t doubt that you have seen many Cubans touring their country, entering the classification of “national tourism”, but they have to pay with hard currency, meaning, in convertible pesos. Keeping a blog from Cuba is not as expensive as making a trip throughout the entire island, especially if one knows the technological possibilities that the web provides, in order to program in advance all of the works that have to be uploaded.
I can’t always connect to the internet once a week, from a hotel, at a price of 15 convertible pesos (cuc), a price that in national currency would be enough to do a round trip with Astro, paying for the service in Cuban pesos, the way you suggest, in order to support the economy, and ignoring the time that I have to waste standing in lines, which I hope you have seen in Cuba.
Back to the topic of internet. With 15 cuc I can acquire a card for two hours of internet access in a Havana hotel.
My work begins at home, when I write the text in Word 2007. Then I use a template that allows me to publish it, once connected to the internet, along with images, directly to my blog or as a draft. Then I open the blog (Laritza’s Laws) and I only have to program it so that it comes out at the chosen date.
Internet cards are one of the best gifts a friend from abroad or a traveler to Havana can make to a blogger. In that sense, I am very lucky: thanks to that help, those 15 cuc that a card costs, I can use to buy food for my family or a pair of shoes for my son.
I hope my explanation can help you understand that traveling through Cuba is much more expensive than keeping a blog.
With a long delay on this case, I take this opportunity to respond to Anteco, a Spanish reader, whom I invite to coffee in my house, if he ever travels to Havana one day. These are his words:
“I have just discovered this blog, and from the few entries I have read, without a doubt this one is very moving and gives an idea of the sad reality of Cuba. I am a Spaniard in love with your country (which I have never been to) and with a great curiosity to get to know one day the Cuban people. However, I would have never imagined that the restrictions of the Castro regime reached that point. It seems that the wonders of your island are limited to the enjoyment of the rich foreign tourists, a contradiction-come-true in a communist regime. I hope there is soon freedom in Cuba.”
Picture: It is from 2009, in the Saratoga Hotel, when Laritza was managing the blog Laritza’s Laws which she later decided to call Cuban Legal Advisor.
Translated by: Claudia D.
August 6 2011