Stories from the Revolution

In the city of Santa Clara, Cuba, Judith and I wandered over to Parque Vidal - the geographical, social, and commercial nucleus of town. There were alot of people out tonight - couples strolling, children playing, and local vendors selling food. We met a man named Francisco who sells peanuts for 1CUP ($0.05CDN) each. He had been working all day and decided to sit with us and tell a few stories. Francisco is 81 years old. He lives with his 109 year old mother and wife who is just younger than himself. Every day, he walks 2.5km to the center of town to sell Peanuts. The rations that the government distributes are not enough to live on for the entire month so he must do what he can to bring in more money to care for his elderly family. His age reflects the things he has lived through. For an hour, he recounted stories about the revolution of the late 1950's and early 60's.

We sat on a park bench looking across the street at the government run radio station and the Hotel Santa Clara Libre. Francisco related the story of
Che’s fighters facing off with Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista’s snipers who holed up in the hotel. He also spoke about change - about when he was young, only people of European ancestry were allowed to enter the park and those with dark skin or who were descendants of slaves had to remain outside.

For a man of his age, he had an amazing memory. He spoke with such detail. He remembered the exact prices for common staples in the 1950's and could vividly remember how the city looked back then as he related it to us.

It was one of those experiences that makes life so special.

As our chance meeting ended, we offered to give him a ride so he didn't have to walk the 2.5km home but he gracefully declined saying that he enjoys the walk as it gives him time to think, to enjoy the scenery, and to remember.