Tag Archives: expat

The BlackGringa Talks….

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Yes…every so often we record ourselves saying relatively random and superfluous things.  And today we thought we  would share some of those things with you.

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Three Things Cuba Does Really Well

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Three things that the Cuban government does very well are (1) educate its people, (2) include cultural knowledge and the arts as part of the national curriculum;  and (3) foster environments that are inclusive, from an early age.

The underpinnings of a society are best seen in the behavior of its children and Cuban children could not have been more engaging, enchanting and inclusive of a little girl who had no idea what they were saying.   So below is a clip of three scenes: (1) Reflects the value Cubans place on providing an education that promotes critical thinking, strategic analysis, and active engagement (all children learn chess); (2) Reflects the high value placed on culture and the arts in Cuban society (this young girl attends a boarding school in Cienfuegos that specializes in classically trained musicianship (Cuban education is, by definition, State-run and free); and (3) Reflects the innate inclusiveness of Cuban children and how it extends outward to everyone (there is no fear here).

This is what makes Cuba unique in the world.

Entrepreneurship and the Socialist State

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I am an entrepreneur and I am not ashamed.  I like to make money and I like to do good, and when I can do both simultaneously, I am at my happiest – so Cuba presents a conundrum.   How could someone like me (a business person) live and thrive in Cuba?

  1. Someone like me (a foreigner) has not right to stay in Cuba beyond the terms of the tourist visa or temporary residency granted because of one’s work.
  2. If someone like me was looking for a more permanent solution…then (easiest solution)  it would be time to get married to a Cuban…..and Miguel was good looking, but he wasn’tthat good looking!
  3. Most private enterprise is limited to small service businesses – selling food/restaurants, taxis, hairdressers (of course), renting rooms in homes, etc.  The services I get paid to render in the US are non-existent in Cuba…because they are free.

So unless I plan on being a black market business chick….which (for the record) I do not….making money in Cuba remains an elusive concept to me.

How do you make money in Cuba?  If you have some ideas, I would love to hear them.

Walking Out On Faith

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I promised myself that after our side trip to Cuba I would come home and start packing. Well the packing has begun.  Yesterday I started paring our life down to just a handful of boxes (my goal is three) and a couple of ready suitcases.  Given how relatively nomadic my life has been, reducing our family’s belongings to those items that are historically most crucial (e.g., children’s art projects and awards), gets easier every time I do it…but I always have to ask myself, “Am I letting too much go, should I hold on to this piece and that piece?”

The reality for me is that we are more than the collection of items that sit on our shelves or gather dust in boxes that we only open when we are moving.  I am more than that collection of 1st love, love letters, that I have towed around with me for the last 20 years.  I am more than the sum of things that I thought were important once, but no longer.

So our spring cleaning has begun. Today I paid for my next two months of rent and gave my landlord my notice.  Hooray for small victories!

Always at moments like these, when I stand ready on the precipice of significant change, I visualize an image that gives me strength and conviction.  I imagine Jesus walking on water, a miracle born through his unfailing faith in God, and I imagine myself, unfailing in my belief that God will always protect and guide me, walking on a sea of change, buoyed by God’s grace. This gives me the strength to proceed without fear.

Can I get an AMEN!!

My Trip in a Cuban Ambulance

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I freely admit that sometimes I am a complete klutz and I can have two left feet.  When I was in Santiago de Cuba, I really looked forward to hearing some live music.  So I got prepped to go to the Casa de las Tradiciones.  Put on my tight jeans, a nice cleavage bearing tank top and some 4 inch heels…..WRONG!!

Lesson 1 – Never wear 4 inch heels (trying to look cute) on uneven terrain, cobbled streets, at night when you can’t see straight, in Cuba.  That’s just asking for trouble.

And of course, not 10 minutes after starting my journey, I took a dive into a hole on the side of a curb and twisted my ankle all the way round…at least that’s what it felt like, and I could have sworn I heard something crack.

Lesson 2 – When you severely twist your ankle, reconsider your footwear, go home and put your foot up.

Did I do that?  Of course not!  After yelping and tearing up a little, I proceeded to the Casa to hear that music (not dance) and then limped home.  And the next day I got up and walked/limped around all day.  Remember this is my dream destination and I wasn’t going to let a little pain keep me down.

So by the time I finally arrived in Trinidad, my foot had swollen to twice its normal size..totally gross and I figured I’d go see the doctor….who first said, “take your blood pressure medication”, then “you are going to the hospital”, in an ambulance, no less.  One thing about Cuban health care, they are darn efficient.  Between that doctor’s visit, the round-trip ambulance ride, x-rays, orthopedic consult, and final doctor’s exam, I was in and out in under 60 minutes.   And the total cost, including anti-inflammatory meds was $57.

Lesson 3 – Follow doctor’s orders as closely as possible.

They wanted to put a cast on my foot and have me off my feet for 15…yes 15 days.   Did I do that?  Of course not….duh, dream vacation!   I sat for an hour and a half, then I had to be up and about again.  You know what they say….you can’t keep a good woman down!  Oh yah!

Now that I’m back home, the swelling has finally gone away and while my foot still hurts, I’m walking with a small limp, and heels are an impossibility – I can say that it was totally worth it.