June 3, 2010
Havana, Cuba
Elevation: 0km
Humidity: wet
I asked my friend today if he would want to live somewhere else if he could. He kinda shakes his head and told me “no.”
There are times when you don’t know if you should be asking the questions that you are asking. After all, not everyone shares the same sense of candor and openness that I practice. Whether be it one resides in a highly controlled environment or not. I feel like I might be on dangerous ground here. Yet I venture out a little further. Is it because of your family or because you are attached to this place? The latter he tentatively tells me. I nod my head and leave this dialogue for now.
A bit later, if you could just change one thing, what would it be? Would you want easier internet access? Easier travel restrictions? Easier to buy food, art supplies and etc? If you could just change one thing, what would it be? (I didn’t want to even suggest a change in anything political as that is a different can of worms). Easier and faster internet so that I could actually communicate w the world is what my friend would wish for.
If all things being equal, I can understand why my friend would not want to leave Cuba. He is an artist. He makes more money than regular worker at a government job ($15-25 USD per month). He doesn’t have to pay taxes and fees on his income and he can get a travel visa easier than others because he is an artist (8 months process). Why would I want to leave he asks me. I live kinda like a rock star here. I can do whatever I want and the money I make from selling my paintings is rather substantial here in Cuba.
I take a good look at my friend, dressed in an impeccable white t-shirt, white converse high tops that is cleaners than I can ever keep anything even if I do have unlimited access to bleach, and his puma baseball cap. I think about how its a lot easier for him to market his art and get exhibits because his nationality affords him a niche like none other. Yeah, my friend is a rock star in his own right, if all things being equal. I can understand why he wouldn’t want to leave.
Charlie Grosso

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