MIAMI, United States. – Of my 30 years of life under a communist dictatorship, I only remember two incursions into regime facilities that could correspond to the term “vacation”.
The first one was nice if unusual. Sometime in the 1960s, my self-sacrificing and industrious father was rewarded with a week’s vacation in Varaderoall expenses paid, luck of what we know today as the successful all inclusive in other confines of the Caribbean.
I remember that they put us up in the luxurious Dupont apartment, something ghostly due to the absence of the original owners of those residences, “intervened” by the Castroites.
The so-called “vanguard workers”, for seven days were part of the middle class, already decimated, or of the bourgeoisie, which had taken the path of exile. Then they returned to the torment of their habitual shortcomings.
The second time that having participated in a revolutionary vacation project comes to mind, it turns out to be less pleasant. The 1980s and the workers had long ceased to enjoy privileges, other than those described in the revealing documentary End of centurywhere beleaguered cane cutters are allowed to do a few meager purchases—robes, shampoo, handicrafts, underwear—at Havana’s once-famous department store.
The dictator required more sacrifices from his acolytes, excommunicated them from hotels and tourist centers, to accommodate foreigners, called to enter the needed dollars and created the plan known as “camping.”
On mountain slopes, near reef-lined shorelines, tiny huts were erected, like doghouses, with common toilet facilities. The food was summed up in a set of canned food, trinkets and other miseries known as “bill”.
Between the months of February and March, my family celebrates numerous birthdays in freedom. We have made it a habit for every occasion to enjoy forays into places near Miami. Mexico and Caribbean destinations are reiterated in lightning vacations of great charm.
This year, we returned to explore the intense and famous axis that runs between Santo Domingo and Quintana Roo.
Sometimes frustration makes my countrymen say that without the revolutionary torment, the geographical advantages of Cuba and its people would have competed fairly with those other crowded places in the Caribbean.
After the long-awaited independence, it will take decades for the Cuban tourist industry to catch up with those well-oiled and functional monsters that are Mexican and Dominican tourism, just to mention two of the expensive places for Cubans in Miami.
This year my good friend, the comedian Boncó Quiñongo, an artist who usually delights those who go to the beaches of Santo Domingo through his shows, recommended the Risa Travel company to manage one of the birthdays.
I spoke for a long time with the co-owner of the company, Mariela González, a successful Cuban since 2014 when she founded the agency with her husband, against uncertain forecasts from the competition from powerful sites on-line dedicated to travel
Mariela knows her business inside out and suggested we explore a beach in La Romana, Dominican Republicwhich turned out to be a true paradise not only because of its serene geography in a kind of cove, but also because of the meticulous attention of its employees.
The young driver who was taking us to La Romana upon realizing that we were Cubans spoke to us with admiration about the radio program “La tremendous corte”, which he has not stopped listening to since he was a child.
The following birthday we celebrated in Cancun, Quintana Roo, in an “all-inclusive” hotel complex, just like the one in La Romana.
Mexicans know that they compete with other destinations and the attention that the employees provide to hundreds of people, who come from all over the world to enjoy the benefits of the Caribbean, make it seem personal, like friends.
Families from Argentina, Asia, New Orleans and some rural places in the United States also indulged in these exclusive vacations, where nothing can be scarce, nor does employment try to cheat or steal belongings, as happens in Cuba because life outside of hotel grounds is totally dysfunctional.
Today, the free Cubans of Miami are the driving force behind this tourism, especially in the summer months. Mariela and her company Risa Travel, almost all staffed by women, respond meticulously to this demand. Those who attend are, for the most part, the functional workers of our community, the middle class that Castroism treacherously obliterated.
The national tourism of the regime is pitiful for its inappropriateness and mistreatment and the foreigner is mounted on the repression and misery of my compatriots.
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