Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Cuban Debate


Tenzin Choephel
Reporting from Havana

Los Industriales player takes a swing (Photo Courtesy of Matt Benoit)
Thursday morning, I decided to stay in the hotel to finish up some of my stories from the last couple of days. Adam Lewis, a member in our group, decided to stay in as well. He was finishing up his stories on Cuban baseball. So we both missed the morning tour with plans to meet up with our group during lunch at Jose Fusters house. Fuster is a famous Cuban painter, and I was interesting in seeing his work. When we asked for direction to his house, some of the hotel workers had no idea if Fuster served lunch or had a restaurant. This was partially our fault with the “Spanglish” communication we had. Adam and I gave up, so we headed out to grab some lunch on El Obispo; a busy little street with many food joints. For a dirt cheap price of one and a half Cuban dollars, I was able to buy some fried rice. The food was absolutely terrible. In fact, I think it might be a reason why I feel a little sick.

Being huge sports fans, we headed out to El Parque Central. We were told that this park was the place where many Cubans argue about baseball. The park wasn’t very far from our hotel or El Obispo, so it proved to be a pretty good place to write down some notes and film these passionate fans. Once we crossed the street to the park, you can immediately hear men yelling. There was this huge circle of people either talking or listening intently. Despite our lack of Spanish, it was quite entertaining to see these baseball fans. When they would speak, many would throw their hands around like wild man to get their point across. Some even got into each other’s faces. But they would never cross the line and physically attack one another. It was quite the debate and I was a little worried one baseball fanatic might cross the line. We even had a nice Cuban man explain some things to us, including a joke made by one Los Industriales fan (team in Havana) about how Los Isla (another team) batted like women!

I had come to the park before and seen many of the same people arguing. Baseball was their heart and soul. Instead of working or going to school, many of these men passed their time arguing and debating. I’ve always loved healthy sports debates. Not the ones you see on ESPN where Steven A. Smith or Skip Bayless make it their right to personally attack each other! But the passion I saw here at the park made me feel comfortable to be in Cuba. It was almost like I was home, arguing about sports to some of my best friends. Cuba truly is an amazing place, from the people, to the architecture, to their love of sports (baseball and futbol), and even to this unique park. I probably won’t get another time to visit such a lovely place. But I hope that more people can witness how unique it really is.

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