Homage to Che

You can be there in half an hour without any trouble from the museum-piece remains of the armored train that lie near the center of Santa Clara. On the southern slope of the hill runs the central railroad line, but the stairs climb, segmented, from the west, through the Capiro neighborhood, called that after the surname of some ancient character from the city.

The take the Pioneers there to recite, what… we will be like Che.  Christian Protestants climb to ask God to protect Santa Clara from the evil of homosexuality which, they say, has turned it into the gay capital of Cuba, (despite what the chauvinist Las Tunas people say about Puerto Padre).  The military delegations and officials climb up to shout Patria o Muerte, Fatherland or Death; the foreign tourists go to complete Che’s route, which starts a long way off, in the Memorial, following in the famous armored train (or the train that was sold, according to the evil tongues of the good historians) and must end there. The university students, when the disco Mejunje closes, the early morning hours aren’t too cold and there’s been plenty of rum, they climb singing the songs of Sabina* and Fito*, and falling in love and “metatranquear” (a special univeristy student word which means something like talking deeply on profound themes, with music, alcohol and participants from the three sexes), half lit by the city and from there in the half-dark you can see, from the highest point, all the way to Capiro Hill.

Huge metal pieces at the summit are an homage to Ernesto Guevara.  To the north, you see the fields and a series of study centers, closed by Las Villas University, which this reporter can no longer travel to because the youth leaders there have orders to resort to blows, whenever it may be, but preferably at night.  On Capiro Hill, inside the metal tubes of the monument to the Che, live a few toads and frogs who also are leaving, preferably at night.

*Translator’s note: Singers Joaquin Sabina (Spanish) and Fito Paez (Argentine)