There is no element to define more accurately the nature of a Cuban passenger than aesthetics, volume and especially content of their bags. Nothing can tell our past, concerns, intimacies, fears and oddities like that. Neither barcode or seals, nor shield alongside the huge tattooed Republic of Cuba says as much about ourselves as it does a suitcase going to or coming from abroad in the hands of a Cuban. The suitcase that contains us. The syncretic. The pharmaceutical. The culinary, cosmetic and solidarity. The borrowed, as teaspoon, and little salt. The always obese. The wheel stuck and paraplegics of arms. The metamorphic. There are in our suitcases a profound definition of the nation and at the same time, chronology, almost genetic markers of our (r) evolution.
The suitcase initially resembles utopia. It is a little the horizon. Having it around represents to be one step closer to him, and one beyond ourselves. For a few nights while you go to sleep you look at it for long, full of old clothes, junk without origin and say to yourself one day, one day you will return to accommodate present and especially to bring future. And that day arrives. You take out the past and immediately begins to display its influence, all its power. -Power? Yes, power. Take for example a basic question what airline you’re traveling, what constitutes an option you will choose? Perhaps in Switzerland, Italy and New Zealand is the comfort, prestige airliner or the fare. But here, we know, has a more powerful variant of the equation. The suitcase, Is that corner full of dust at the bottom of the window? Yes, that one. How many bags do you let in? How many kilograms of luggage? These are foundational and defining when selecting who you will fly with. And then you’re lucky. You learn that there is a promotion that lets you take two of 23 kilos less, plus a handbag. But you have only one. Then comes the solidarity suitcase. The only asking you if you can one bring on CLIPPER lighter back-because these can be filled and here are no longer sold. And you claim that you will that while solidarity towards the veteran that locks the roll and has less teeth in their zippers.
With a destination set, tickets and bags in your hands comes a moment of paramount importance, a ritual that is bidirectional and something else at the same time. Let me explain. Bidirectional: make bags to leave or return to Cuba is in both cases a serious protocol, strict script in most cases. Something elase: public attendance varies, and as the volume and nature of the packaging. This last factor depends very much on whether they are a beginner or a veteran. In Cuba the ritual with the presence of mothers, fathers, sons, wife, grandfather, aunt, nearest neighbors (most of whom will accompany you until your feet leave glass or your head, lying on the floor, release a new goodbye).
That pre-trip team that reminds you what you should not forget. Drugs which there are very expensive-. More old lady clothes that you will leave behind not to occupy space. Something cold on those aircraft which the air they put all the way (this type of advice usually comes from one who never went beyond that which was standing on the beach). And of course, guards, all kinds of guards: holy herbs, stones from El Cobre, two dollar bills, one smallish vase. Lilies, sunflowers. That the beginner.
The veteran goes a step further and violates a handful of international conventions on biological safety in the transportation of passengers there. A rhapsody of our culture. Avocados, tamales, mamey, peas because they do not find them equal, guava candy bars. Bottles of rum in allowed or not volumes. Cigar boxes to cushion the blow of travel money. The aforementioned backups, disk exactly as it sounds, and even what should not sound on the island. A cart without tires, or armless doll to prevent childhood exiles. Photos, hundreds of photos which show those who are still there and smile, and survive in the struggle. And a flag. A huge banner that someone asked us for or is missing in the bedroom to make it less cold.
Suitcases for return on the other hand are even more complex. We know. Because its composition and structure are under our full and sole responsibility. Because there may be many people willing to help, but often little to understand you. You throw the question out but seedlings do you do both packing soap, toothpaste, socks, underwear. Scouring sponges! Coats for cold to the eternal tropical paradise that have always sold. They look incredulous how we can pack a bag of 10 kilos plus two bags of 23 kgs, one lame and toothless zipper in which you put two CLIPPER lighters. Some suitcases have gone through more weighing than a boxer or an Olympic judoka the day of battle. They ignore that this is also a fight. And you know it. Perhaps as never before, you know. There are at that moment, in that ritual an intimate moment with your nation. One definition.
Nobody like you understands that time. And then you realize you’ll always be there. Breathe hard fucked which is deeper, then put those six padlocks you’ve bought, a dozen colorful signs and markings indicating that these are for Havana (like if necessary) and come back.
There, they are waiting with long hugs. Kisses delayed. A crazy mother screaming at you like you’re still 10,000 miles away. A neighbor who lights his Popular with a CLIPPER and a country that continues to confess, get saved, define and resurrect with what is loaded in the suitcases.