A couple of weeks ago I got back from Santiago after living there for 3 months with my family visa. As usual, it was both a living hell and cool like Che’s Motorcycle Diaries. I will be posting a series of posts, starting today, about these past three months.
The first will be about my visit to Santa Ifigenia to ‘pay my regards’ to el Comandante and Jefe…
Noel had to stop by the police station to have them take photographs of his motorcycle since their database was lost somehow and everyone with a motor vehicle had to go and for re-photographing. After we did that, we swung by the cemetery to visit Fidel, who died a few months before I came back to Santiago. As far as I could tell, no one in our sphere had been affected by his death, if anything, everyone was complaining at the over usage of his image on TV and in the street. “They’re (as in, the Cuban government) is just using him. It will never stop.” A pretty good joke was going around about Marti, and the new tomb, which is just a big shapeless stone as you’ll see in the photo. The ‘cuento’ goes like this: The cemetery maintenance worker sees Marti bent over, as if very distressed. Normally Marti sits in a pensive position. “Well, what happened Apostle? Why are you bent over like that?” cries the worker. Marti replied, “Brother, they put this huge stone in my way!” This joke has been whispered a lot among friends and family.
When I arrived at the tomb, a couple guards were stationed there, and one of them escorted us to the front of the tomb. Only one photo each was the rule. We didn’t bring a flower. In front of Fidel, I thought about how my querida abuela lost everything and about the huge impact that this man made. I said quietly, “Gracias por todo, Comandante.” I said it somewhat farcically, although I believe that in the moment I kind of meant what I said. Then Noel snapped my picture on his cellphone and we left.
Beforehand we also walked around the cemetery and Noel pointed out various interesting sights like the memorial of the founding fathers of Cuba and the graves of all the unknown. We also visited Noel’s family plot where his grandmother is buried.