How I got a heat stroke or unforgettable Havana with Poquito

Cuba Time is not a saying, it is a phenomenon that I believe also can be called island time because no one is in a rush and no one is ever on time. After 1 hour of waiting for our excursion and drinking strong Cuban coffee at 8 am in the lobby of our hotel we started to have doubts if anyone is coming for us at all.

After our driver showed up he said that he was late because his car was in a shop getting fixed. That is Cuban favorite excuse and it didn’t surprise anyone because cars in Cuba are as old as my grandpa. His car was this elite old pink corvette. He said: “Not your transportation, this is for photos“. After photo session this man drove us in second vehicle to nearest town of Veradero where we were transferred into a third vehicle to finally start our journey to the capital. There was 5 of us and so we were not scared to transfer vehicles. You just have to look at it as an adventure because if you are too punctual of a person, you would already go crazy after waiting for 1 hour to begin with.

I happened to have the privilege to sit at the front so I started the conversation with our driver:

–  What’s your name?

–  Call me Poquito.

–  Doesn’t poquito means small in Spanish?

–  Aaaa, no. If your dad is Frank and you are Frank that means you are Poquito Frank, comprende?

– Oh, comprende. You mean Junior like Robert Downey Jr.?

– Yes, I am an Iron Man, you can’t tell?

After this phrase I started to realize that Poquito is not only going to be our driver and guide but also a stand-up comedian all in one.

We were rolling through green areas of country pretty fast as for an old car.

– Hey Poquito, what is the average salary in Cuba?

– 20 US dollars per month. Doctor can make 40 dollars a month.

– And how much do you make on excursions?

– I make more than a doctor! See, I have Ray-Bans.

He pointed on his sunglasses and wide smile appeared on his well-rounded mid age face.

The weather was in higher 30`s Celsius on this late April day. There was not a single cloud in the sky. I could feel drops of sweat rolling down my back.

–           Poquito, can you please turn on the AC?

–           Roll down all windows, that’s my AC.

–           Then at least make music louder and how old is this Chevrolet with no seat belts anyways?

–           1957 model, I saved money and got a new engine now!

–           Holy, and how old is that jeep over there?

–           1929 model.

After this shocking number we all agreed that jeep appearance didn’t change much since the 30’s.

–           Where are you guys from?

–           Canada.

–           Oh, I want to go there, it’s a dream.

–           And we want to come here, it’s a dream. Too cold in Canada, Poquito, trust me you don’t want to go there.

He really encouraged us with his motivational speeches such as: “You didn’t come to Cuba to drink water and you didn’t come to Cuba to sleep, did you?! Party and go out and enjoy the beach and enjoy yourself and enjoy your life!“

We asked him a lot of questions about Cuban communistic regime. He said government is the biggest mafia and he kept repeating “Remember, it`s Cuba? Crazy country!“.

I really think this sunny weather has a lot to do with positive mentality of its people.

Two hours later we walked through squares and brick roads, smelling a mixture of sweat, cigars and blooming flowers that cover cracks of old buildings on the balconies, spotting Capitolium and hanging out in square of Revolution.

There was extremely hot and exhaustively exciting day ahead with cheap Legendario rum, snacking on a fresh food market and stocking up on Romeo and Juliet cigars, participating in bribe given to the road police, lining up in a wrong bank to exchange some dollars for the CUC and learning that there are 2 currencies in Cuba. We also will be discovering a statue of naked woman riding the chicken with fork in her hand that represents modern art, visiting huge cathedral with statue of my favorite Pope Saint John Paul II, visiting gigantic Statue of Jesus Christ on a hill with breathtaking view of Havana and the ocean, watching local kids play soccer right next to us…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poquito was extremely proud that Fast and Furious 8 got filmed in Havana.

It will be a few months later that I will watch this movie and with incredible and even somehow childish excitement say: I have been there, I have been there with Poquito!

 

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