Colleagues in the Cuban film world remind me that it’s typical to have regular cancellations and delays. I have definitely shed the “time is money” ethic of my home country, but I’m not quite used to hearing, at 11 PM on the eve of a shoot, that it is off—or on. Fortunately, the crew I am collaborating with is flexible, and has no other commitments this week—so I am still hoping to get everything done during my last three days.
An on-and-off breeze (mostly off) helped me get through the spring heat—and this is nothing compared to July, when Marcia and I filmed a few days last year. Havana is completely back to normal, as far as I can tell, post-Obama/Major League Baseball/Los Rollings (The Rolling Stones). The pulse of Havana is a bit uneven on the subject of Obama’s visit. Some are lamenting the loss of a day or two of work—not a small thing in much of the world. Some felt his speech was canned, that he did his research and said the right things, but they await actions (lift the embargo). Others were inspired and felt that it was a historic opening, with inherent gains—and risks. Over beer today with our advisor Rafael Betancourt, an economist at the U of Havana, we talked about the implications. All of it is true, he said. Potential gains, risks, frustrations, empty promises, inspirations. A middle class will emerge, non-agricultural cooperatives will grow in number, and the state will remain strong and involved in planning the economy. There are no models for Cuba’s future—not Vietnam, nor China, nor Sweden nor Denmark.
I met with Enrique Bueno, one of the most well-recognized telenovela stars, whose government salary requires him to create other opportunities. I know that many aspiring actors in LA, San Francisco and New York wait tables between auditions, but Enrique is a star. He had several stories to tell that he wished to remain off the record.
As my final meeting was delayed, I had a nice walk on the Malecón, the wall that protects Havana from the sea. While the light turned warm, and the sea a deeper blue, I watched a fisherman snag a squid, a Santera dressed in white with a white parasol, and the usual and wonderful collection of lovers young and old, families, travelers and seekers. It is a magical part of this city.