February 21 - El Prado – the People

[Franklin Marquez – Age –50’s; Birthplace – Santiago de Cuba, Cuba; Residence – Miami, Florida, U.S.; Lives with Wife and Children; Occupation – Attorney, Writer, Moderator of the Blog]

El Prado is a great place to watch people. One sees young and old Cubans sitting, passing time, enjoying the outdoors on a sunny February day.

School children playing. Art in the park. Art classes for younsters.
Desolute people.

I’m walking towards a loud ruckus. I am not sure what it is. A concert? A demonstration? A dark-skinned, twenty-something year-old Cuba approaches and walks next to me, saying, “I can’t take it any more. These people demonstrating about this – those people anti-demonstrating about that. Who really cares? Nothing changes.”

I’m afraid to answer. I don’t know if he’s for real, or baiting me to criticize. I’m also trying to figure out what is ahead. Is it a demonstration? Am I going to get caught up in a “Ladies in White” demonstration and get my head bashed in, or get arrested. I’ve never heard of them doing anything on El Prado, but who knows. The man drifts away. I slow my steps, trying still to figure out what’s coming up. When I get there, I see it’s a group of young people dancing to music. No demonstration. No unhappiness. All good.

I stop and watch a teacher showing young children the tricks of painting.

I watch people waiting, and waiting, and waiting – to enter a pizza restaurant, to get a bus, to exchange money, to enter a store. Well, what does a Cuban have to do that’s urgent? Everything is slow. Who wants to go home, where there are few comforts, where a dinner consists of the same beans and rice that one eats every day. Wait, wait, wait. Maybe we can get some carne de res (beef) over on whatever street. Let’s go over there and wait. Maybe we can get some … whatever. Let’s go and see.

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