When I arrive in #Viñales I grab my running shoes and hit the only road out of town. A #Cuban guy in a proper kit comes #cycling straight at me. I give him a “Qué bolá?” smile and a big wave. He changes direction to head my way and escorts me down the highway like a biker for the lead runner in a #triathlon.
For the next hour we swap life stories. He grew up in poverty an hour outside of #Havana, was raised by three #strongwomen (his great grandma, gram, and mom), and studied… English with unbridled passion at the University of Havana. “I spent years learning 20 words a day,” he tells me. “Now I collect #idioms. Like ‘the grass is always greener.’ How would I use that one?” I give him an example from my own life. He tells me about the courses he taught at his University. And how he became a tour guide.
Despite having never visited the #UnitedStates, or even left the island, he can name all 50 states and their capitals. He knows the names of every #American president. And the winners of the first 12 seasons of #theVoice. “Do you like Blake Shelton?,” he asks. “Blake’s alright,” I say, “but Pharrell is awesome.” Just like our conversation. So of course, I make sure it isn’t the last. A few days later, when we are both back in the capital, I see Havana through his eyes.