Tuesday, October 14, 2008

BMWs and Wheelbarrows

Once upon a time (you may even remember this though it seems like forever ago), seven interns were working away at Fallsbrook Centre, getting ready to depart for their respective placments.
I was in Jean's kitchen, and she began telling me about her idea to import a truck
into Cuba for the project's use. She says she has a contact with a shipping company and could pack a 40 foot Container with the truck, and whatever other equipment they had purchased for the project. Now, Jean knows I have a weakness for high-adventure, and I think she also enjoys the idea that I might go traipsing off on some wild adventure.
So she says to me, in a tone I will later come to know is not at all for sure, "You could take the container down on the boat!" My eyes light up; I can tell because I see them reflected in hers. And it happened: my hopes were up. I would find excuses to stop by the main house and every time I spoke to Jean I asked about the truck, the container, the boat. I can't remember at what point I realized I wouldn't be on the boat, and it wasn't a real shocking realization it was like waking up and going about your routine when you quietly remember a good dream or a great idea that has slipped away.
Here I am. Arrived. In Cuba. my spanish came back in a flood, the smell of
that low grade petroleo floods my nose, and I remember the bureaucratized mentality of maƱana that has taken root in Cubans. You are all aware of the lack of resources? I've told you, right? The Bloqueo, Even though Cuba continues to trade with no fewer than 150 countries around the world. In neither the carpentry shop at the institute or the two hardware store that I went to could I find nails. Resources are scarce: The farms in Guantanamo don't have wheelbarrows, shovels, files for their machetes. They don't even have water on some of the farms. There is a storage room at the institute in which we are storing all those things for the farms, except the water of course. We just have to get them all the way across the country.
Since some when back in August there has been a rumor of a truck leaving La Habana for Guantanamo. Orlidia has been adamant that may be this Saturday the truck will take the gear and tools out for us. And Claudia would go with him to get back.
Jean and Claudia were, shall we say, lacking in faith that this truck would ever leave.
So Jean comes up with the, in my opinion, great idea for me to rent a car and drive
across Cuba and back to deliver Claudia and the equipment. Can you imagine my reaction? Like Pavlov's dog at the sound of the bell, I was drooling over this idea. I had even gone to various rental agencies for prices. I was so looking forward to this when I got the news of Claudia's option. Which, as effective as it may be, seems like also the most outrageous solution.
Claudia has a friend with a car who is willing to drive her and all the stuff out of Playa, out of La Habana, past the Bay of Pigs, past Che's memorial and tomb in Santa Clara, eastward, toward the mountains where the would be revolutionaries were still only rebels, toward the barracks that those rebels first attacked on July 26, toward the little piece of foreign soil where the world's largest military power has a naval base in the lands of it's smallest but most stubborn opposition. She will drive all the way across the country to
Guantanamo on what I will call the Great Bavarian Road Trip; in the car of her friend. Said car is a BMW.
What kind of world are we living in, indeed, where BMW's are used to transport wheelbarrows?