19 Nov III. Papito and the rousseauian memento
‘Compassion for the Cubans!’ intimates Papito, echoing Rousseau’s memento. Should I be taken aback when receiving the same injunction by a contemporary 70ish-year-old black cuban and by a XVIII century philosopher? Who is this man, intent on taking apart his Soviet sidecar? Within half an hour of conversation, he has mentioned Socrates and Voltaire, quoted Jose Marti and Francisco de Miranda, spoken of the Louvre Museum as though he had been there many times before and described military tactics at the battle of Waterloo. “I read a lot” he says; “you are very lucky to be able to travel and see many things”. He says he was an industrial engineer; he never left Cuba.
Papito is worried that we will get the wrong impression of cubans. “Some of them are shameless” he says, “but it’s a difficult situation, you must understand”. From what I understood he earns his living by running errands on his sidecar. He wants to take me on a ride when he has finally put the engine back together. But he will not accept money for that, and to further prove his point he makes for the door and beckons us to follow him to have lunch with him and his wife. “Que pasa, compadre!?”, he is very upset that we must decline his invitation; I have to swear we will be back tomorrow to quell his animosity.
Photo by Marco Crupi.