Another Side of Cuba
It was breezy, yet sunny Sunday afternoon at Henry Harris County Park in the Upper Florida Keys. Coconut palm trees lined the calm water in which a few dozen people — mostly young children and their Spanish-speaking relatives who were watching them — were swimming. The first landmass that one would reach if he or she were to have sailed directly south from this point of land would be a group of islands near the Cuban city of Sagua la Grande, which is less than 150 miles away on the other side of the Florida Straits.
Life couldn’t be any more different for those who live on this side of the treacherous body of water that has taken the lives of untold numbers of Cubans who sought a better life in the wake of the 1959 revolution.
I met Samuel, a 23-year-old man, at Cabaret Las Vegas, an unofficial gay club in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood, on my first night in his country. I was completely exhausted from lack of sleep, but we immediately hit it off and he gave me his phone number before I walked the block to the house in which I was staying.