Mom and I woke up about the same time, and instead of packing before breakfast we headed down for coffee and to get our heads straight to face the day. I don’t like to face people before my coffee but out we go, shoving and kicking the bloated door, walking the windy hall that overlooked the front of Palacio Valle.
In another world, I would just run down the stairs but here and now that seems a bit much, especially if it would mean leaving my mom and getting sweaty in fresh mascara, so we wait for the cutting-edge-in-1959 elevators to arrive and bring us to breakfast.
We stop on the fifth floor and two men in their 40s or 50s enter, both with short hair and polo shirts. They look Russian. Or maybe Swedish. Canadian, perhaps.
I don’t know what language to speak so I smile and then look down at my shoes like they’re the cutest things I ever saw.
The elevators stops again and a brunette man and blonde woman enter. They look like they are dressed for golf in Palm Beach, they are in a different Cuba than I’m in.
She looks around at us and says Buenos Dias and everyone muttered the same thing back and then she turned to her man friend and started speaking plain old English, loudly, complaining about a personal pain in a way she would not have done if she thought we could understand her.
I love this, I’m trying to not giggle.
No one has ever thought I look anything but American, so I feel strangely invisible and liberated.
The couple exits the elevator first, then the men stay back and let my mom and I step out.
I say “thank you” without thinking and the men say “you’re welcome” in harmony with no accent at all. Awesome.
I don’t know where they headed but Mom and I went to the breakfast that was included with our room.
We get the same waiter as we had the day before, and again I ask to please have a cup of Cuban coffee, since I’m in Cuba and all, and again he apologizes that it isn’t included with the meal and asks for the money up front. I give him $5 and wait. Mom goes off to order eggs and whatever, leaving me at our table to read a Marian Keyes novel on my Kindle app and peek at the two women sitting next to me thumbing through a guide book planning their day. Their body language said they were on their honeymoon, whispering so low I couldn’t even tell you what language they were speaking.
The art on the walls decorating this restaurant at Hotel Jagua is a bit more “artsy” than I would see anywhere I would have breakfast in the USA (Village Inn, IHOP, Mickey D’s, Chick-fil-a) and before the amazing waiter could bring my tiny cup of perfect coffee I counted 5 naked breasts and two round naked female butts in the paintings that lined the wall to my left. I could not unsee the exaggerated sexuality that vibrated in orangey reds and cold blues, and when Mom sat down I told her there were nipples everywhere but she didn’t seem to care and told me to go get some food. I walked the empty buffet and like yesterday just sawed off a piece of warm baguette and plopped butter on my plate. Not much, but enough -- I was sure -- to get me through what we were going to face in our last hours in Cuba.