Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cuba, Part 8

There was no avoiding him, now.

The big man moved toward us, at a leisurely pace. The other three guys were left rubbing their hands over the oil drum fire and watching.

Danielle and I let go of our suitcase handles, and stopped, wondering what the guy would say to us. I was more than a bit concerned. I noted, for the umpteenth time, that absolutely no one was around, as he got nearer to us. If these guys weren't friendly we were going to have to make a run for it. This thought didn't fill me with joy because I realized that I could outrun them, but Danielle probably couldn't. I very much doubted that any of those guys could catch me, but if Danielle weren't fast enough, that would render the point completely mute.

"Are you guys lost?" he asked us, almost with a laugh, stopping just arm's length away. He said it a bit hesitantly, though, as if he weren't quite sure what language we spoke.

"We were looking for a hotel down the road," I answered, pointing ahead of us, into the darkness.

"It's a little late to be looking for a hotel, isn't it?" he chuckled once again. Then he looked back at his friends and bellowed, "They are looking for a hotel in the middle of the night, during a blackout, what luck, eh?!!"

This was, of course, followed by peels of laughter from the peanut gallery around the oil drum. One of them even slapped his knee as if it were the funniest thing in the entire world.

"Is there a hotel down there?" Danielle asked impatiently. At this point, we were definitely a little pissed, not to mention tired and hungry. And we both knew there was absolutely no way we were getting any food for hours.

"Where are you from?" the big man asked Danielle, completely ignoring her question.

"Canada," she replied casually, as if she had lived there her entire life. Good job! We had discussed this before, and we were prepared.

"You don't sound Canadian," the man remarked thoughtfully. It was becoming clear to me that everyone in the world spoke at least two languages, except, of course, Americans.

"We live on the border, in Vancouver, there's not much of an accent in that city," she explained to him.

Danielle was cool as a cucumber under pressure, I had to hand it to her. If she had succeeded in fooling him, all the sudden we were just regular world travelers. Possibly without a cent in our pockets. But had he pegged us for Americans, he would have known instantly that we were packing a wad of greenbacks.

The man leaned back to address his friends again, "They're Canadian! We love Canadians, don't we guys?!!"

The guys started hooting and hollering like it was the Fourth of July. They must have been pretty lit up. I noticed all the empty beer bottles around the oil drum. Quite a lot of bottles, in fact.

"I still can't believe you came to Cuba in the middle of the night during a blackout! That's not the safest timing, is it? I think maybe me and my friends should walk you to the hotel. We wouldn't want anything to happen to you!" and he motioned for his three friends to come over and join us.

Now, I was definitely nervous. I didn't like the comment about the safety of our timing at all. I studied Danielle's face which seemed to say, 'It's a little dicey, but I think it will be alright.'

"C'mon," the leader said once the three men walked over, still drinking their bottles. "We'll show you where it is."

The five of us walked down the road, hopefully toward lodging...



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