Che is everywhere in Cuba. And he is Argentinan. But his story is so inspiring that I understand why these people love him so completely.
I have heard of him before now but you know how you hear of someone but don’t pay attention. In Cuba, I had no choice. Che is everywhere.
I never knew he was a doctor. I had never heard of how he traveled around the countryside providing free healthcare to people that otherwise would have died. I can almost see him; young, unafraid, adventurous, and so angry at the elite and governments that cared less about the people they fed off from.
In Cuba, funerals are free. Caskets and so on. This is not why Che was buried here. This not why Cuba insisted on his body being returned home for burial. This is not why they waited more than 20 years later to bury his remains.
Men such as this should be cremated and their ashes scattered everywhere. One strand of hair in Madagascar. One fingernail in Buenos Aires. One handful of ash in the Pacific, another in the Atlantic. So that everywhere, they are heard, everywhere they are seen. So that people don’t forget them.
I visited the tomb of a woman who was said to have died in childbirth. Her grave is in the largest cemetery in Havana. This cemetery is like the park I went to in Toronto. A cemetery that is really a park. A park that is really a cemetery. A place where the dead and the living cohabit happily. One set trying to find peace, while the other have learned that peace will find you.
Anyway back to the cemetery in Havana. The woman’s tomb is famous. It is called the grave of the miracle worker. It is said that after she died in childbirth, they buried her along with her child. Except the child was buried between her legs but when someone exhumed the grave a couple of years later (please don’t ask me why!), they found the child in her arms.
Barren women throng the tomb seeking miracles. Women with sick children too. People seeking hope, miracles. I stood in front of her tomb, an unbeliever, albeit a sad one.
See I too have lost too many to the process of bringing new life into the world-thanks to Nigerian healthcare I stood in front of that tomb and felt sad, not for her, but for the visitors that came bearing miracles in form of flowers, rather than seeking them; her family and those that loved her.Those who only wanted one miracle- for her to breathe again.
Cuba was an experience. So much so that it has taken me three months to finally put it into words.
Viva Cuba Libre!
Song of the day: Gloria Estefan – Words Get in the Way