In the infancy of Cuba’s tourism, Wanda St. Hilaire takes a trip to the tiny island. In spite of her love of all things Latin, she puts herself on a travel ban to Castro’s Cuba, one that lasts twenty years.
When she is forced to cancel a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico at the last minute, she finds herself in Cuba twice, on back-to-back trips. Walking into the backstreets of Havana, eyes wide open, she finds herself pulled into a dalliance with a charismatic cubano.
Underneath the façade of Cuba’s tourism lies the desperation of a society living mostly in abject poverty. When tourists mingle with locals, we get a glimpse of what underlies the frivolity of Cuban entanglements. St. Hilaire speaks with an authentic voice and doesn’t mince words; she recounts her own activities, emotions and opinions with refreshing honesty.
With each solo adventure, the author reaches a deeper understanding of human nature and the world. At the same time, she conducts a journey of self-discovery, learning about her own entrenched beliefs, biases and blemishes.
The Cuban Chronicles is written in a ‘Dear Diary’ fashion, part travelogue, part musings about the past, and part a self analysis of her needs and wants.
Wanda leads us gently into the exotic island of Cuba, the Prisoners Paradise Island as she calls it at one point. Cuba is an enigma, while the government calls it a workers paradise, it is far from it. On her first visit to Cuba Wanda views the the island through some rose colored glasses, finding the good and skillfully avoiding the seamier aspects, or at least downplaying them.
It is on this visit that she meets a Cuban man, Paulo, ruggedly handsome, the die are cast. Wanda quickly finds herself at the mercy of her Latin lover. Returning to Canada they maintain a long distance love affair via the phone and occasional email. There is to be a much anticipated reunion over the Christmas holiday with Wanda once more returning to Cuba, this time though the plan is not to stay in a hotel, but rather a private rented apartment.
Even before leaving for the Christmas of a lifetime Wanda is beginning to have some misgivings, little things are beginning to bother her. Paulo is most certainly a taker rather than a giver, he has some great plans for the vacation, but all seem to rest on Wanda’s money.This return trip also is described in detail and turns out to be fraught with unpleasantness, as she had feared
The Cuba Chronicles is an interesting book, and one that operates on several levels. You can read it as a straight story, a novel of an independent woman’s view on life, almost the book version of ‘Sex and the city’, with scandalous hijinks going on. You can also read it and see the darker side of human nature at work.
The book provides a very interesting look at present day Cuba where the residents are living in abject poverty, and some in downright filth. Filth and poverty do not necessarily have anything to do with each other except when hope is gone, and this seems to be the case with many on the island. The residents are not allowed to discuss Castro, The Revolution, or politics. Most residents are not permitted in the hotels, and if they are, they still cannot use the sparsely scattered internet connections. Laptops that do exist, are the oldest of models, and provide aid in securing some of the better paying positions. A professor with an M.A. makes $35 per month, and a journalist appreciably more. Most taxis and other autos are of the 50’s vintage, and Ms. Hilaire suggests that what Castro’s Cuba has done to the male psyche is criminal.
I found the book a very interesting read and would certainly recommend this to everybody.
Thanks Paula from Author Marketing Experts Inc. for the book.