I first met Daniel, TiaLourdes’ physician, on my first trip to Cuba and I wrote all about it for you in “Four Days in Cienfuegos.” His wife has been visiting with us for a while this afternoon, and his daughter came and went while I was off walking the streets with Olguita (and as I write this a year and a few days later I want to be clear that I still don’t know where we were going that day or why).
He greets me warmly and I’m happy to see him and all of his English-speaking awesomeness.
We hug because that’s what everyone does in Cuba (with variations like “hug kiss kiss” or “kiss kiss hug”), and then instead of releasing me he holds tight to my shoulders, takes me in up and down and proclaims, “You look SO MUCH BETTER!”
He couldn’t have known that those were trigger words.
He couldn’t have known that every single semester when I teach the 1980 election I ask my classes whether the statement “You look SO MUCH BETTER!” was a compliment or not.
Most students wince. They get it. Behind those words are a thinly veiled “you used to look horrible, thank goodness you don’t hurt my eyes anymore.”
I case you’re wondering, I’m thinking the most polite and kind thing to do in mainstream America to say “you look great” or even better, just don’t comment on someone’s appearance unless they bring it up. I digress.
I use “You look SO MUCH BETTER” as a lead-in to the discussion of Reagan’s 1980 slogan “Make America Great Again” which implied that post-Vietnam, post-Watergate, unable to rescue hostages from Iran US sucked. This all makes sense in class, in the USA, where I am the professor and they are the students and the story makes sense in context. I never imagined anyone telling me that I look SO MUCH BETTER, and when it happened I almost didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing and he continued to behold me in all my jeggings and FSU t-shirt awesomeness.
I didn’t take mental notes but for the next few minutes he very boldly wanted to know what I’d done to myself because it was a damned miracle how much better I looked.
In all truth, I wanted to ask him if he got new glasses but I didn’t. Bless his heart. Bless mine. Bless world peace. I said that I ran hills and didn’t eat anymore and that satisfied him.
A group of 5 of us say goodbye and goodnight to Olguita and TiaLourdes and walk towards Hotel L’Union.
|I love the architecture on La Correspondencia. And the numbers 1898, on there twice. That can't be their address, it has to be because they opened when Cuba became independent from Spain. I wonder what's been going on in that building since 1960?|
Suddenly the sky was heavy with inky clouds but I wasn’t afraid. I took this picture for you, then when we arrived at the hotel bar on the top floor I took another picture – this time with a rainbow.
Then things got much more interesting.
|Taken from the roof of L'Union. See the rainbow?|