Life, Culture and Travels from the perspective of a Cuban
Finding Parallels
Categories: Trips

This trip to Belgrade has been a preparation for the trip to Havana in June, an introduction to Cuba after two years. Sometimes I do not realize how much this Serbian city reminds me of my homeland, or perhaps many times I prefer to ignore it and just look at the pretty side of things. I mentioned that the hotter it gets in Belgrade the closer I feel to Cuba, but I wish the issue here was only the weather…

For the last month I have been tripping (literally) on the streets of Beograd since apparently now I am too Canadian or too much of a first world country girl that I forgot how to walk without breaking my bones… or my shoes. In Havana, you can encounter holes, uneven surfaces or broken steps at any corner. Drivers do not escape this problem as they need to become pothole masters as well.

I grew up seeing sidewalks lift by tree roots and nobody fixing them. Every single person in Havana needs to know how to surpass the common streets obstacles like an olympic athlete, looking not to step on dog poop, avoiding random stones on the ground, a piece of broken glass, trash falling off buildings or worry about missing manhole covers during the rain. It is the daily bread for us, something that we do as natural as breathing. But we Cubans forget easily or like to forget. As soon as I moved to Canada my shoes lasted longer and I started looking up, minding my own thoughts and searching for the stars or different architectonic styles. Walking became so simple.

In Belgrade my shoes get really dirty after two days, when the wind blows I have to be careful with the dust and taxi drivers could rip you off when they realize you are a foreigner. I know the country cannot be compared to Cuba in most ways, but I ask to be forgiven, I haven’t been home in a while. It is funny and unfortunate these are the type of things that remind me of Cuba.

But Havana always wins in this competition. Here in Belgrade some buildings get repaired, some streets are clean and even the Aleko Moskvich cars function better. Fountains work, public transportation is quickly available and citizens do not destroy the green areas. When I arrived here I noticed one unbelievable aspect of the city: the garbage containers are the same old garbage tanks that we used to have in Cuban streets back in the 80’s and 90’s (those metal tanks were replaced by plastic ones). They still keep those ugly ones in Belgrade. I had to inquire why, someone replied that the reason for it was that people often throw hot ashes from the woodstove during wintertime and the plastic ones would burn).

Step by step I manage to find similarities between my hubby’s birth city and mine…smoking indoors by a “Smoking not allowed” sign, abandoned movie theatres and stores, the evident popularity of a particular brand name (Nike being a good example).

I know, it is sad and upsetting how I discover new parallels each day.


Leave a Reply