Last night I had dinner with Murry at a little groovy place I know in my street that's called SIA KARA, here in Havana.
We had lobster. He loved the place and the food. But I was tired, so tired and all my body ached.
I had achieved a lot during the day. I shopped for most of my food for the week. Bread, eggs, vegetables, guava, bananas, papaya, milk, juice, water of course. I got a sim for my phone and Murry's, found a place to by cheaper Internet, 2 cucs for 1 hr, admittedly the woman behind the counter at the Hotel Inglaterra is an outright bitch who just takes glorious pleasure in dismissiveness. To her it's a calling, her raison d'etre and I hate her.
E.g, when I asked her how to logout from the wifi card, she said to just shut down the wifi, which I felt was kind of wrong but I followed her instructions anyway, idiot me, because later on I found that all my time had been eaten up on 2 cards behind my back, so to speak. When I approached said bitch, pre- bitch naming, she actually said that she never said anything to me about logging out ( and I reminded her that she did ) and then she said that she knows nothing about theses things. Then why is she fucking working here? Great reception woman. The correct way, I was later informed by a non- bitch was to put 18.104.22.168 in my browser and that would take me to the logout page. Anyway, I've digressed, I got Mumbo Mick's tres organised, Yummi and a new girl there, at my house, Dahlia made me lunch, they're happy cause Neida's ( the owner ) gone to Cienfuegos for a few days. Yummi calls her la Bruja, the witch.Today they've invited me to an outdoor concert on the Malecon,on the sly (cause Neida would not allow such a thing) to see some famous singer and her orchestra.
But.....last night I became as sick as a dog. I can't believe I'm actually out at the Anglaterre Hotel writing you this. When I complained yesterday of aching and tiredness Dahlia had suggested I may have the flu or a bad cold or whatever and I dismissed her but around 8.30 pm just after trying to get to sleep, the sneezing began and the headache and snot and dry sorish throat...fuck...here we go, and all night I was a total blubbering mess. I didn't sleep a wink till maybe 8 a.m. It's 1.53 pm now and I slept till 1pm. Dahlia and Yummi brought me hot lemon tea and I've taken cold and flu tablets. So at the moment I'm up. Oh well...we'll see how I fare today, if I can beat this snot monster.
I'm not getting agitated because I've had some magical good luck since I left Sydney,after the $200 US for 5 kilo extra debacle. The trip was just fine, except for the fact that I think I was in the cryogenic section where I was freezing and asked them to turn the temp up many times before the finally acquiesced, ( this is probably the point at which I caught my virus/ cold/ flu and I should litigate against United Airlines ) , I watched a DOCO about the Who and their management and part of another film with Tom Hanks and I slept quite a bit. I get to San Francisco with plenty of time for connections, pay USD $29 for a chicken Ceasar's salad and a double expressos, and as you know upon going through customs through to Mexico they confiscate my Colgate toothpaste because it's 10grams over. Yeah like I'm some kind of clean freak, lovely breathed terrorist. I said, I've already used a quarter of it so its not over weight, they said no, yeah like I'm gonna hold the plane and crew at toothpaste tube point, and threaten to clean everyone's teeth on the plane before I turn around use it on myself. Yeah. " Do as I say because I've got this toothpaste and I'm prepared to use." With all this toothpaste confiscation, You'd think that they'd have a much bigger problem later on the flight with everyone's bad breath and on the long flights gum disease and decay. Then maybe everyone could sue United Airlines for Dental Trauma. Then they took away most of my phisohex cause it was more than 200 grams.
So, I get to Mexico, customs fine, all good and on reflection, this is where my great fortuitous luck begins. I get outside and tell a shop keeper who sells Taxi vouchers that I've a friend who drives a yellow cab and if by chance I could call her from his phone and he generously obliges. Rosita comes and pick me up within 15 minutes, I haven't seen her since last March 2015 and it's December now, she's happy to see me again and takes me to the hotel that she took me to last time but it's full so she suggests another and takes me there, also near the airport, they have plenty of vacancies, the room is great, clean everything, great strong shower, $28 US a night, fuckin amazing less than the Ceasar's Salad and coffee. I say a million thanks to Rosita my angel in Mexico and organise with her to pick me up at 8.30 am because my itinerary says that my Aero Mexico flight 451 leaves for Havana at 11.31 and so I figure instead of getting there at 9.30 to start check in, I'll get there even earlier just to make sure.
Outside in the street they've got restaurants and also those little street cart thingies where a guy makes tacos, soup, little cakes, sweets bla bla and I sit down to the best bean and Ham soup I've ever had and some soft shell beef and cheese tacos with hot, hot, hot salsa verde and ensalalda with little green peppers and coriander and tomato all chopped up finely.... Yeah baby. Then I have a shower go to sleep, back in my room of course.
As it turns out I was downstairs the next morning at 7.45 am and Rosita was already there waiting for me, lucky, because by the time I got to my gate to leave for Havana my flight was already boarding. Why?....Because it was leaving an hour early and my itinerary was WRONG. TALK ABOUT GOOD LUCK.,!! ) Had I not have been downstairs early, had not Rosita been there as well, had she not declined on my offer to have some breakfast in the street ( because she'd already had something ), She did say "look, we have time, you can eat before we leave if you like". Had I not decide to have breakfast at the airport after checking in instead, I would have missed my damned flight because my Travel agent.... had given me the wrong fucking info.
My good luck didn't stop here. I breezed through immigration in Havana like.......a breeze. Then I proceeded to baggage. While on the plane I'd filled out my declaration form for Cuba and after deliberating over whether to declare the 14 mobile phones, one house phone, miscellaneous gifts, and to packets of Miso soup I decided, much against my gut instinct, that honesty was the best way so I declared away. ( The telephones at least ) On the way to pick up my bags I passed by a table where sat 2 elder ladies that looked like officials and I asked them from which conveyer belt I should pick up my bags. One of them asked to see my declaration paper. I innocently handed it over. She looked through and when she came to the phones, she asked, " Does this say 4 or 14 " I said, "14". She gave me a look that implied that I was immensely naive, even daft, then looked at her friend with a wry smile then looked back at me, called me down to her eye level and whispered, "you cannot bring all these phones in, you can only bring in 3 at the most, they'll confiscate them all and maybe even worse". I immediately began to explain that they were all presents for friends. She then announced that she wouldn't be the one to whom I would have to explain and gestured behind her to the quarantine and luggage search area. Then she said look, pulled the lapel of her khaki jacket slightly to the side, showed me her badge and said, "I'm just the airport medical staff and I'm telling you, you cannot declare this or anything." She then asked me to follow her to her office, where, while taking my pulse and blood pressure proceeded to give me a brand new declaration form so's to get me out of trouble. She said my pressure was high. Derrrr !!! Then she re-iterated that when I walk through the final check out, the one with nothing to declare, to act cool, relaxed and collected, not to use a trolley for my things and to wear my backpack on my back and guitar in other hand. Then she asked me for a "tip". I gave her some Mexican pesos which she said she could change. As I was leaving the office The other elder woman asked me when would I be returning to Cuba and I said probably next year same time. She asked me if I could bring her a phone, I laughed and said, look give me your number and I'll get in touch soon and give you one of the one I brought this time.
So I'm now fully prepared with my lying declaration and nonchalant face to pick up my big luggage and guitar. My big luggage comes out first but my guitar doesn't so after a while I ask one of the young women customs people looking over things if there's another area, like oversize luggage where my guitar could be and she says, that there's another section where I could check and points to the other end of the terminal about 100 metres away. I wait where I am just to see if my guitar comes out, there's lots of people here at this pickup area and I don't like the thought of someone else walking away with it. After a while I ask the same woman if she thinks I should check oversize and she says yeah. So I go over there and there it is. I walk back with everything past her and without any questions, nothing, she points me down the Green passage- NOTHING TO DECLARE, I can't believe my luck, in a few more steps I'll be home free. But then I get to the end and a very young good looking girl asks to see my papers, she looks at my three bits of luggage and says " go back to baggage search ". I ask why. She says "for Revision".
So now I'm thinking I'm fucked, totally and utterly fucked. Revision means "fucked". As I'm walking back thinking about myself languishing in a mouldy Cuban prison without a view or immediate deportation, the other girl asks me what's wrong and I point back to the final post girl and say she told me to go back. Then this girl calls out to her colleague and says, " What the hell are you doing? He's cool to go." The other girl says, "I sent him back because of his guitar". Then this girl says, there's nothing wrong with his guitar, he's cool, let him through. I'm a lucky guy. Then I was outside, beyond customs limbo, back in sweaty Havana.
So yeah, and since Thursday night Ive been as sick as a dog. I've never had a cold this bad, maybe it's a flu, I haven't slept for 2 nights and I'm rattling with cold and flu tablets and paracetamol. Today I'm not even leaving the house. I'm going into self quarantine. It's very weird being in sick in another country. But I'm not going to get agitated about it. It's got to run it's coarse and I hear my special voice..." George don't fret, relax, sleep, that's what you need. That's what your body is telling you George."