We set off for Alquizar at eight in the morning, intent on celebrating the birthday of a dear family friend as best we could, with what little we had: Rice, beans, yucca, and avocados. The starchy feast would be accompanied by so many bottles of rum that by the time the storm came, many of us were forced to wander across a muddy field towards the safety of an old canvas-covered flatbed truck, arm-in-arm. A heavy downpour ensued and although I initially thought the party was over, I was pleasantly surprised when a few of the revelers wedged into the back of the dusty vehicle began to sing. Eventually, the rum bottle made its rounds and the jokes began:
Oye ‘Tasio tengo otro chiste:
“A little boy named Carlito once asked his father how society is organized under the socialist system. The father, a government official, answered, saying it was organized much like a household – The father is the party, the mother is justice, the maid is the working class, Carlito reflected “the people,” and his younger brother, the future. The following day, the boy ran to his father with a smile across his face, remarking that he now understood what he meant: Last night, papi, the party was screwing the working class as justice slept, the people were neglected and the future was covered in shit.”
We would remain in that truck for the better part of an hour, 15 pairs of muddy feet and sodden “chorts,” eventually watching the sun dip below a horizon of lush green vegetation, perfectly content to be with each other. For all the things the “Revolution” has taken away from the Cuban people, it has never been able to vanquish the spirit that is purely cubano. Of all the things I drank to on that afternoon, solidarity was by far the sweetest one.
I miss you all.