Friday, March 22, 2013

Twisted Vagabondage Tale From Cuba

Sex, drugs and rock-n-roll in Cuba - let's start with the drugs part. I boarded a plane from Mexico City to Havana at around 8 am. The socially-acceptable drug at that hour is coffee: a custom I only break if I've been drinking the night before and actually got to bed (or passed out) early enough to wake up and still call it morning. Then I usually have the common Mexican hangover remedy of a couple cold cervezas with some hot spicy soup. Forget about Tylenol kids. This is just as effective and way more fun. Am I a doctor or a shaman? No, but I often play drums for the shaman, so I'm kind of a medical authority.

I had already drank liters of coffee, waiting around the airport for the flight. So, time for corn flakes and milk, right? Wrong, cuz this flight offered free Cuban beer, which this brew-guzzler had never tried. Another thing I've learned in Mexico is that 12 noon is early enough to declare the arrival of beer o´clock. In life, you have to grab some opportunities while they´re hot, even if the weather isn`t and even if the sun has only been in the sky for a couple hours. "Uhhh, stewardess, una cereveza por favor."

I may not have flirted much with that flight attendant, but she very well may have detected a more seductive tone in my voice each time I said, “Una mas por favor.” I was certainly smirking more each time and envisioning her bent over my knee requesting one more spank, rather than me asking her for one more beer. I must admit to sometimes being guilty as charged of completely daydreaming while a beautiful woman is talking. Still, I eventually swatted that inappropriate dream bubble away, as if it were a stanky fart, harassing not just the flight attendant but a cabin of innocent by-smellers.

The next note-worthy experience still stored in my memory would be getting off the plane shitfaced and exchanging documents with Cuban immigration. They are no doubt used to hammered gringos getting off the plane and I was lucky to encounter a relaxed agent, whom I probably addressed more like my good buddy than the wearer of the suit and badge I would have noticed if I hadn't been so toasted. 

I guess the alcohol drowned my fears: the fear of an American illegally visiting a communist country then facing state department wrath, the fear of Cubans locking me up for some political end when they confuse me with my father who shares my name and works for the US government, or just the fear of a petty frustrated immigration official asking intrusive questions till I lose myself and blurt out, “Just stamp my fucking visa!” No, this interaction went well. I was never clear on how a US citizen could visit Cuba without them stamping your passport. So, I asked the guy, “You´re not gonna stamp it, right?”

He said, “No, of course not.” Then he opened my passport, put ink on his stamp and made a motion like smacking the stamp down. Yet, he stopped mid-way and looked up with a grin. We both laughed. He probably does this shtick over and over to spice up his day. My day was about to spice up and rock-n-roll: playing drums for a Santeria ceremony - but that's another story.

Shaman Jim lived in the US for 24 years then in Mexico for the last 17. He is a writer, university professor and Afro-Cuban drummer. His passions include being a better husband and father, plus keeping the beer belly as small as possible without reducing his beer intake.

1 comment:

  1. We've all daydreamed in those circumstances, James!