Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Foreigner For One Day, Foreigner Forever: Diary of a Returnee, Part 2

Foreigner For One Day, Foreigner Forever: Diary of a Returnee, Part 2 /
14ymedio, Dominque Deloy

14ymedio, Dominque Deloy, Havana, 22 August 2016 — How do Cubans to know
I'm not from here? I wear the same clothes as Cubans (shorts, shirt and
sandals) and my skin is not that white in this scorching summer. Also, I
flatter myself I speak pretty good "Cuban"… So why do I still feel like
a perpetual stigma like I'm being "délit de faciès" (racially profiled)
as we would say in France to refer to those who control the streets and
target immigrants with no other motive than their physical appearance.
Why am I forced to hear continued calls in the street of "Hello my
friend?" in English. Followed in Spanish by "Do you want a taxi, a good
private restaurant, where are you from? What language do you speak? Do
you want to go to the beach?"

Why can't I just seem normal, like the rest of the citizens, and not an
almost extraterrestrial being? Why is the label of tourist stuck to my
forehead, as if I was suffering from an obsession that consists of
touring the island over and over? Ten years from now will they still be
offering me wooden statues of Che berets? Why doesn't anyone think I
live here, and even work here, in exchange for a Cuban salary?

But that is not all. A few days ago, at the La Rampa Art Fair, I had to
pay 2 CUC to get in (just to have the right to buy things inside!). My
partner, nowever, was only charged 4 Cuban pesos, that is twelve times
less than me.

What bothers me most is that everything is implicit, natural, wordless,
without explanations, just from looking at my face. And so it is at any
cultural event, except the movies, thank God: 2 Cuban pesos for
everyone, the only time I become a normal person.

I think that over a long time, despite globalization, an invisible
barrier has been raised between Cuba and normal people, between normal
Cubans, and the "strange" foreigners. I hardly know if my status as a
foreigner is more a positive or a negative from the perspective of
Cubans, who generally seem to be well disposed toward me. There is an
invisible but unalterable barrier, and I can't figure out if it's
because Cubans appreciate foreigners. Happily, I left behind the era
when my future husband had no right to sleep with me in a hotel or a
private B&B, much less swim with me in the crystalline waters that bathe
this island, when – at that time, yes – I really was a tourist.

Source: Foreigner For One Day, Foreigner Forever: Diary of a Returnee,
Part 2 / 14ymedio, Dominque Deloy – Translating Cuba -

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