I don't quite have the words to adequately describe my experience... but I know it makes my heart ache.
Three nights ago, at 3:30AM, I was leaving a club in Cuba after spending hours dancing the night away with some Cuban boys. One of them, who had patiently been spending this night teaching us rhythmically challenged Canadian girls how to dance, was waiting with us to make sure we got our bus safely back to our resort and we got into a conversation about life in Cuba.
We talked about how the guys who work at the resort try to make out with all the girls. While to us it seems like they are all big players he explained that in Cuba the girls don't have access to nice clothes and make up so when all these girls come in with their light skin and expensive clothes and get themselves all dolled up it is exotic to them, being with these girls is how they can experience the world... because most of them will never leave Cuba.
How foreign that is to me. While my friends are more and more being spread out over the world and I aspire to spend a great deal of time traveling he can say with such confidence that he and everyone he knows will likely never have the opportunity to leave the small island country where they were born.
Then he talked about how they work at the resort for 20 days straight and then go home to rest and see their families for 10 days. For this sacrifice they are paid 18 pesos for every 20 days that they work (about $25 Canadian). He said that he gives some of the money he makes to his Mom for the up keep on her house, and that the jeans he was wearing cost him 25 pesos, more than his month's wages. Yet I can see that he loves his job, he spent all this extra time with us teaching us to dance and wanted to meet us the next day before we left to give us a present and say goodbye (he who has so little wants to give something to us). In fact all of the staff were so friendly and energetic and seemed to be having fun, yet they were not making enough in 20 days of work to buy themselves a pair of jeans...
Lindsay and I did meet him the next morning, away from the lobby because the staff are forbidden from coming to say goodbye to the guests,and he gave us both beautiful pictures that he had painted (as well as working at the resort, he teaches fine arts at a boys school). Before leaving I gave him all the money I had left, 20 pesos (about $30 Canadian), more than doubling his salary for this month. I'm not saying this because I'm proud of it, because its nothing to be proud of, I'm not going to miss that money... I'm saying it because it is so ridiculous to me that an amount of money that means nothing to me is worth so much in his hands, that a big difference can be made so effortlessly...
But I don't... we don't.
Our eyes are closed.
On a hot night under the stars in Cuba mine were momentarily opened... and it broke my heart.
I pray that my eyes would not close again, that God would change me through this experience, that I would make a difference.
And still my heart aches...
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