From a rock in the port, the Prophet contemplated the white sail of the ship that was to take him to his land. A mixture of sadness and joy flooded his soul. For nine years his wise and loving words had been poured out upon the people. His love bound him to those people. But duty called him to his homeland. He tempered his melancholy thinking that his enduring advice would fill the void of his absence.

    Then a politician from Elmira approached him and said: Master, tell us about the Cubans.

    The Prophet picked up his chalk white robe in a fist and said:

    Cubans are among you, but they are not of you. Do not try to know them because their soul lives in the impenetrable world of dualism. Cubans drink joy and bitterness from the same cup. They make music out of their tears and laugh at their music. Cubans take jokes seriously and make of everything serious a joke. And they don’t know themselves.

    Never underestimate the Cubans. Saint Peter’s right-hand man is Cuban, and the Devil’s best advisor is also Cuban. Cuba has given neither a saint nor a heretic. But Cubans sanctify among heretics and heretify among saints. Their spirit is universal and irreverent. Cubans believe simultaneously in the God of the Catholics, in Changó, in charades and in horoscopes. They treat the gods of “you” and make fun of religious rites. They say they believe in no one, and they believe in everything. And they neither renounce to their illusions nor learn from disappointments.

    Don’t ever argue with them. Cubans are born with immanent wisdom. They don’t need to read, they know everything. They don’t need to travel, they have seen everything. Cubans are the chosen people … by themselves. And they walk among other peoples as the spirit walks on water.

    Cubans are characterised individually by their sympathy and intelligence, and in groups by their shouting and passion. Each of them carries the spark of genius, and geniuses do not get along with each other. That’s why bringing Cubans together is easy, uniting them is impossible. A Cuban is capable of achieving everything in this world except the applause of another Cuban.

    Don’t talk to them about logic. Logic implies reasoning and moderation, and Cubans are hyperbolic and excessive. If you are invited to a restaurant, you are invited to eat not at the best restaurant in town, but “at the best restaurant in the world”. When they argue, they don’t say “I don’t agree with you,” they say “you are completely and utterly wrong”.

    They have an anthropophagic tendency. “He ate it”, is an expression of admiration, “eating a wire”, a sign of a critical situation and calling someone a “drool eater”, is their most usual and lacerating insult. They have a pyromaniac will, “to be the flame” is to be the summit. And they love the contradiction so much that they call beautiful women “monsters” and erudite people “barbarians”; and when asked for a favor they don’t say “yes” or “no”, but rather they say “yes, why not”.

    Cubans intuit solutions even before they know the problems. Hence, for them “there is never a problem”. And they feel so big that everyone is called “chico”. But they don’t shrink from anyone. If you take them to a famous painter’s studio, they just say, “It never cross my mind to paint”. And they go to the doctors, not to ask them, but to tell them what they have.

    They use diminutives with tenderness, but also with the will to reduce the other. They ask for “a little favor”, offer “a little cup of coffee”, visit “for a little while”, and of the desserts they only accept “a little piece”. But also to who buys a mansion they celebrate “the little house” that he acquired, or “the cart” that he has to who bought a luxury car.

    When I visited their island I admired their instantaneous and collective wisdom. Any Cuban considered himself capable of liquidating communism or capitalism, straightening out Latin America, eradicating hunger in Africa and teaching the United States to be a world power. And they are amazed that other people do not understand how simple and obvious their formulas are. So, they live among you, and they don’t quite understand because you don’t speak like them.

    The ship had arrived at the dock. Around the Prophet the crowd swirled in pain. The Prophet turned to her as if to speak, but the emotion drowned out his voice. There was a long minute of moving silence. Then there was the impassioned cry of the ship’s helmsman: “Make up your mind, my brother, stop chatting and get on now, for I am late with the schedule.

    The Prophet turned to the crowd, made a gesture of resignation and slowly boarded the deck. The Cuban helmsman then set his bow to the horizon.

Luis Enrique Aguilar León

J.D., Doctor of Philosophy (1926 in Manzanillo, Cuba - January 5, 2008 in Key Biscayne, Florida, United States) was a Cuban journalist, professor and historian.

Source:án_Marías[1]The Spanish philosopher is credited with a more extensive text very similar to this one shown here on the Argentine people. Reading a little more about both authors we can confirm that they were … Continue reading


1 The Spanish philosopher is credited with a more extensive text very similar to this one shown here on the Argentine people. Reading a little more about both authors we can confirm that they were contemporaries, being Julían Marías the older of the two, both also obtained degrees at the current Complutense University of Madrid, so it would not be surprising that Luis Enrique Aguilar was influenced by the work of Julían Marías or vice versa. What is certain is that this text, adapted or not, is a humorous illustration of the character of the largest of the Antilles, very pleasant to read and often accurate.