Es Cuba: Life and Love on an Illegal Island

Es Cuba: Life and Love on an Illegal Island

by Lea Aschkenas
     
 

Es Cuba is a poignant and passionate travel memoir about falling in love with a country and one of its compatriots. Aschkenas never strays from her acute awareness that there is no way to separate her foreignness (intensified by U.S.-Cuba relations) from the complex mix of emotions, devotion and rejection, enrapture and apprehension that she develops toward

Overview

Es Cuba is a poignant and passionate travel memoir about falling in love with a country and one of its compatriots. Aschkenas never strays from her acute awareness that there is no way to separate her foreignness (intensified by U.S.-Cuba relations) from the complex mix of emotions, devotion and rejection, enrapture and apprehension that she develops toward the country.

Her tale is filled with beautifully woven descriptions of Cuba and the customs and habits of its people. Aschkenas is a discerning observer, taking in the innocence, isolation, contradictions, and resolute optimism of a people who have persevered against the collective disappointment bestowed upon them by a government that has been unable to deliver the utopia promised by socialism. Aschkenas, already a seasoned traveler by the time she arrives in Cuba for the first time in 1999, is overcome by her own passion for Cuba and her unraveling affection for Alfredo as she comes to appreciate his naïveté, sincerity, and ability to live for the moment, something she comes to realize is the effect of growing up in a culture where nothing is ever certain.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Love is the operative word in journalist Aschkenas's intimate, detailed memoir of 10 months spent exploring life in Cuba-love for a young Cuban man whose devotion largely defines her journey. In February 2000, shortly after the Elian Gonzalez custody battle became the cause celebre for nationalists, Aschkenas goes to Cuba for a language program with an American social justice organization. As a tourist, she is housed in an exclusive hotel in a wealthy Havana neighborhood, removed from the dirt-poor, hand-to-mouth struggling Cubans, whose average monthly salary is $12. She soon meets Alfredo, a black-skinned stage technician who teaches her to eschew "la vida plastica" in order to learn about the "real Cuba" of argot, bribery (a dollar gets her practically anything she needs), machismo, El Bombo (the visa lottery that allows Cubans to immigrate to the U.S.) and racism. Aschkenas gradually moves to a shared house in Centro Habana (inner-city Havana) run by several generations of Cuban women who enlighten her on feminist revolutionary history. Throughout, she and Alfredo learn to readjust their assumed ideas of nationality and politics as Aschkenas continually confronts the lesson "of how little in Cuba is as it appears on the surface." (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781580051798
Publisher:
Avalon Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/09/2006
Series:
Seal Women's Travel Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
342
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 7.86(h) x 0.83(d)

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