Saturday, August 20, 2016

Why Did I Get Myself Into This Mess? Diary Of A Foreign Returnee Part 1

Why Did I Get Myself Into This Mess? Diary Of A Foreign Returnee Part 1
/ 14ymedio, Dominque Deloy

14ymedio, Dominque Deloy, Havana, 18 August 2016 – My situation is like
that of the majority of mixed couples where one of the two had the good
fortune to be born in a democratic country – indeed, a country with a
free press and a multi-party political system, where a person can
express an opinion without fear of being denounced by their neighbors or
reprimanded by the police. It is useful to remember this in these
difficult times, with a certain tendency, on the other side of the
Atlantic, to forget or deny the achievements and advantages of democracy
even though, of course, it is far from perfect and is always an ideal to
that is being striven for.

In these cases, sometimes, the Cuban man or woman, who remains deeply
attached to their island, convinced their partner to initiate the
"repatriation," full of hopes for change after the famous handshake with
the former enemy and potential invader.

Then comes the tricky part of the papers to formalize the return. "Give
me your PRE (Foreign Residence Permit) and I will give you back your
permanent residence," says the official to the Cuban citizen. As for the
one with foreign nationality, they can "arrange" their stay in Cuba but
only after a great deal of paperwork and a good-sized handful of bills.

As the saying goes, "Who has a husband has a country." So, here we are,
although not without a certain trepidation. How can we adapt, find
professional work, rebuild ties with friends lost after two decades of
living in France? Also, you have to resume old habits: standing in line
for hours under the burning sun ("Who's last?" we ask, on joining the
line, to mark our place in it), eating the same thing and at the same
time as 10 million other people (right now in the markets there are:
cabbages, beans and avocados) and, for me, being addressed on every
corner in English ("mafrende" as a Cuban version of "my friend") because
of my skin, too pale, and my clothes, undoubtedly too Parisian.

In addition, you have to climb eight flights of stairs to get home most
days because the elevator isn't working and, worst of all, swallow your
words, think less and keep your mouth shut. How to take pleasure in this
island when it has already passed, too long ago, that state of rapture
caused by fine sand beaches, salsa and old American cars? When did Cuba
stop being a postcard? Suddenly, when my friends ask me why I made such
an absurd choice, I can only tell them, "Love, of course, love!" But I
feel, without admitting it, that a certain consternation is growing in
me and I ask myself: Why did I have to get myself into such a mess?

Source: Why Did I Get Myself Into This Mess? Diary Of A Foreign Returnee
Part 1 / 14ymedio, Dominque Deloy – Translating Cuba -

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