Fleeing the Cold, European Tourists Travel to the Island / Iván García

Photo: Robin Thom, Flickr

John, 49, is a clever womanizer from Marseilles, who, besides fucking as many hookers as he can, always keeps an eye out for business. Several times he’s tried to start a little business in Cuba.

But he always ends up splitting hairs. The lengthy and incomprehensible legal procedures and limited legal safeguards end up discouraging him. The Frenchman, an habitual vegetarian, usually spends from three to four months in Havana, fleeing his country’s cold and stress.

While he examines possibilities for investing money, he has a blast, although he gripes about the lack of nightlife in the city, the loads of shortages and the absurd laws. Every day he’s irritated by the expense of an Internet connection and the poor quality of the wine on sale in the habanero markets. On the other hand, he appreciates the hospitality of the Cubans, “something that has been lost in France, where neighbors don’t even say hello.”

Every night, for just $35, he puts a young woman with hard flesh in his bedroom. Then he lounges around as much as possible. In 2011 he would like to set up a small company that would give him certain benefits and a good excuse to spend more time making love in the tropics, drinking rum and knowing people who aspire to live in a different society.

Alberto also flees the harsh winter in Europe. He’s 35, from Madrid, and is taking his first steps in cinema. He also is fascinated by the Cubans and the island’s climate. This Spaniard is not traveling in search of whores, or to bask in the warm sun of Varadero.

Alberto is an idealist and a freethinker, convinced that Cuba deserves better luck. He hates Fidel Castro because of Franco in Spain. “Fuck, we know what a dictatorship is like.” He hopes to make several documentaries. While preparing the script, he gets to know people and reads about local history.

They are two sides of one coin. John thinks only about going to bed with black women and doing profitable business with the Castro brothers’ government. And Alberto, who’s particularly fond of the island, is more interested in its democratic future.

Where the Gallic hedonist and the Spanish altruist agree is that they both touch down in Havana, trying to avoid the harsh European winter. Once on the island, each goes about his business.

Translated by Regina Anavy

February 9 2011