It's now 2.56 a.m. I think I went to bed tonight about 8.15. For some reason I've eaten a lot today. For breakfast, coffee, 2 expressos, yoghurt and pan con tortilla. Then Maribel, the maid,
took me to buy a mobile line + credit, 35 cuc ( approx $35 ). Then I went to the Parque Central Hotel to buy a wifi credit card so I can do all my daily online stuff. They wouldn't sell me one because I wasn't actually staying at the hotel. I told the lady that last time while I was here for a month I bought many at this Hotel and I wasn't staying here then either, but she said " new rules ", she told me that I could get one at the Hotel Saratoga. But for me The Parque Central Hotel is much more convenient and I can be stubborn too. I looked around the hotel lobby and found a guy who looked like he was staying here and asked him if he would buy me one. He agreed. I gave him 35 cuc. He bought it and I was off and running, blogged my head off! ...Yeah..screw the new rules.
I went back home, ate some papaya and bananas then Maribel and I went shopping for stuff I needed -2 big bottles of water, cigarette lighters, coffee. We bought some cakes and hazelnut ice cream and ate them on the way back. I carried the huge bottles and Maribel spooned ice cream and cake into my mouth. I told her she was my slave. After getting home I was still hungry so I went back out and ate lunch at a local cafe ; steak with with beans and rice, salad and a cervesa ( beer ). Then I went home for a siesta.
I awoke at about 4pm, played some guitar on my balcony with Carlos, who lives in the house with the lady of the house, Neida. She"s 40, he's 25, he's a funny guy. Neida used to be a ballerina with the Cuban Ballet. She's toured the world as dancer and also worked with a famous and now late composer friend of my father's, Frank Dominguez, the guy who wrote the famous song," Tu me accostum brastes ", a song that he dedicated to my dad back in 1957 because he was in love with my dad who was also a pianist. (but that's another story).
Early evening I got hungry again but I thought, this is ridiculous, I'll just have soup.
I also had a bunch of presents I wanted to give to my friend Marcia who works at a street cafe around the corner. I had a mobile phone for her and some toys for her grand daughter. I took them over and she was so happy to see me again. Then I walked back to the Parque Central Hotel for some emailing and then went to a bar in Obispo St, where all the tourists hang. I met my first Jew. He wore a yamulkas. His name is Ray. He's a large man of 68. I told him about my father and he excitedly told me that he had heard of him from his father. And so he invited me to dinner and to meet with a friend of his, Louis Escalar, a Historian who he said would definitely know a lot more about my father's exploits in pre Castro Cuba.
Ray then voraciously described what he would cook and how he'd cook dinner for me, using his pen he passionately etched tiny drawings. Vegetable by vegetable, animal by animal, time in the oven, temperatures et al, and all kosher. It was like watching a General plan a military campaign with intricate strategies and precision. He said he'd make a soup for me that would make me strong like a Horse. Then we talked about how to make a beautiful salad without olive oil, which is very expensive and hard to get in Cuba. The trick of course is Lemon and salt.
While talking to Ray I also bumped into a guy, Michel, who I'd met the previous night in a bar further down Obispo street where I'd gotten wasted after 3 strong Mohitos. I invited Michel to sit with Ray and I. I bought them both a beer while I drank fizzy mineral water. I'm not really a drinker.
There were two reasons why I had come to this particular bar tonight. One, to listen to one of my favourite bands in Cuba. The Tresero in this band is my Tres teacher. And two, to see if I could find a somewhat nefarious " friend ", Alexander, who I'd met on my first trip here. This bar was his favourite haunt. He's a great dancer and would grab girls like he was picking grapes off a vine and dance the night away with these enchanted chicas.
Alexander is 35 and 15 years ago used to be Cuba's World champion Kick Boxer but these days was what you'd call a Hustler. He has a pregnant wife, and a young boy of 5. This day, when I'd visited this bar briefly to ask about his whereabouts, one of the waiters had told me that he'd not seen him for a month. This I found peculiar.
Tonight I asked Michel, who I guess is also a Hustler, if he knew Alexander. Birds of a feather and all.
Michel said, " of course I do, he's my friend ". When I asked Michel if he knew anything, because I wanted to give Alexander a mobile phone and some clothes that I had promised to bring back, he said that Alexander had had some trouble.
"What trouble?" I asked.
Michel told me that he was in Jail for bashing two policemen who wouldn't stop making Alexander produce his documents every single night in the middle of the street, just outside the bar and humiliating him in front of patrons. Alexander just lost it one night and now he's in prison for three damned years. His wife had had the new baby since my last trip. Fucking Great timing Alexander ! I guess he'd be trying to kick down this box too.
Michel offered to take me so I can give my presents to Alexander in Jail. Double Great !!
Perhaps Alexander can make that one call with his new mobile from Prison.
There was something I found unique and loveable about Alexander and this news has made me very sad. Very very sad.
After all this I was hungry again. I paid for the drinks, gave Ray a manly goodbye hug. As I did so he recited some Jewish blessing into my ear and we agreed to meet on Saturday morning at the French patisserie next to the Hotel Anglaterre. Then he gave me a burgundy coloured yarmulkas that he had spare as a parting gift.
Michel told me that he needed to eat but had no money. He hit me up for some, 3 cuc, which now left me with 1 cuc and some small change in national currency. So I hit the street, bought a Salami sandwich for 5 cents then revisited Marcia at her cafe and had some kind of beautiful and tender pig meat ( not kosher) with rice and beans and some cucumber. I also bought a small desert for 3 cents made of peanuts and condensed milk called Mani. Yummy !
Below is a photo of Alexander ( the jail bird,pre jail and I ) on my last trip.
I need to sleep now.