A great deal of the wealth that historically has sustained the Cuban economy, especially agriculture (amassed with sugar, coffee, mines) is contributed by the so-called orientales (people from Cuba’s eastern region), who live at the very foot of the Sierra Maestra (a hem soaked by the sea in the south), or at its top. They are country people generous with outsiders, because it’s a sin to answer with the gesture of the nature that gives them abode, feeds them, makes life beautiful for them with magnificent scenarios…. That life has another tempo and another character, at times surprising travelers: it is in the east of Cuba where surrealism becomes a routine.
Living there are fishers with infinite nets that each morning comb the sea to snatch from the exhausted beach three mochuelos. And even so, they will repeat the hard maneuver that “following day” in which they will always have more luck.
It could also happen that a man crossed your path with his head coming out of a latrine, the easiest way to transport on foot the type of latrine preferred in the region.
In the most isolated rolling hills lives a simple country woman who one evening offered me a cup of strong and sweet coffee she milks from the yard’s plants and which she processed with the mortar, the most rudimentary way. From her stool made of wood and goat skin, with the tip of her feet on the earthen floor of the room the family uses as a living room, she comfortably speaks about the problems of the Sierra with phrases such as “hydric stress.”
And I found out that, in the neighboring bohío (thatched-roof hut), in the heart of the Cuban Sierra Maestra, where it is impossible to install electric cables, and the solar panel is still on its preferred way…lives Byron. “Byron, stay still! Byron, boy, leave the horse be!” In the bohío of the small Byron there are hundreds of verses written on the palm wood walls. Among them, my favorite is the one that, with old-fashioned and at the same time bold elegance, pays special attention to the divorced woman in the very comfortable morning hours.