Home > Uncategorized > Jose Marti and I; BFFs?

Jose Marti and I; BFFs?

I came back from Cuba last week, after eight days in Havana and el campo. (Habaneros consider that everything outside Havana city limits is el campo, ie., the country, the provinces, the place where farmers dwell). This was my first trip back in fifty-six years. In Havana we went all over, including in Old Havana the house where Jose Marti, the father of our country, was born–now as then a museum. Afterward we walked over to where I lived until I was ten, on Compostela street, a couple of blocks away. Alas, although the roof on Compostela street has collapsed, people still live there. My wife Ruth was saddened that people have to live under such conditions but, apparently, even if the government had been willing to fix the place, the residents would have to move out during the renovation and there is neither a place for them to go or a guarantee that they could move back in once the place is fixed. I spoke to the woman hanging clothes to dry on the balcony; she wasn’t impressed that I’d lived there some sixty five years ago.
I used to stop by Marti’s house when I lived nearby, (it was free back then) to admire the small rooms crammed with furniture where our greatest hero was born and raised. Nowadays the museum has none of that furniture and instead has documents and mementos and a two CUC admission fee. (I don’t know what CUC stands for but you get one for $1.10. That rate of exchange was obviously designed to show that CUCs are more valuable than dollars. Don’t knock it: nowadays reality is what you think it should be and clearly, quite a few people have, and act, on the basis of their own reality)
Marti died in battle, May 19th, 1895, but had he been alive when I lived on Compostela street, I’m sure we would have been best friends. (I would have advised him not to rush out and charge the Spaniards which he did, succeeding in his intention to become a martyr). Marti wrote poetry (like his Versos Sencillos), some of which has been adapted to song, La Guantanamera, and I like to sing. He wore a mustache, I a beard. He wrote, I read. We were both Cuban. We had tons in common.
Yep, there is no question in my mind, (Ruth thought so too), we would have been best friends and, with any luck, we would have hung together, snapped selfies and gone places, maybe even to the US, to pal around with Andrew Jackson–my new favorite president. I know Andy signed into law the Indian Removal Act (he said you can’t stop progress) responsible for the Trail of Tears and the death of thousands of native Americans, (he thought it was best for them), that he was a slave holder (also best for them), but I’m sure he was a swell guy, once you got to know him, and Marti, Jackson and I would have been best of friends, if only they had stayed alive.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Philip O. Sheridan
    May 4, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    Dear Jim and Ruth: Wow — your trip to your native land, street, and home must have been impressive and eye-opening. Cuba is on my bucket list — before it changes too much – the old cars, Havana, — probably do it by a cruise ship about the island with a stay
    in Havana. Your remeniscenses (spell) about Marti — and Andrew Jackson — he fought with the Indians at New Orleans, and removed them, towards their death march — 25% or
    more died along the way to Indian Territory – Oklahoma — slave holder — visited Hermitage and his grave; a favorite slave died at 98 as a free person, and is buried at the foot of Jackson’s Grave — he must have had some good points; beside cavorting with the woman who eventually became his wife (scandalous back then — now just typical political
    behavior). Keep traveling and keep safe. Phil & Deanna, Moneta, VA

  2. May 4, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    Andrew Jackson has opened a whole new vein of humor for me. If he would be alive I’m sure he would…(all sort of things, from explaining the Civil War to why some football teams go with an empty backfield on third and short)

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