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  • El Niño Enmascarado

    The Masked Boy

    Cuba continues to surprise me, no matter how many times I travel there. Just this year alone I met a man who had lived in the same small Michigan town that I once did. I was allowed to drive a train on the Hershey Electric Railroad. I experienced the pleasure of having dinner in the home of a wonderful Cuban family. I participated in Cuba's black market. And I stayed in a casa that was also home to a pet crocodile named Alberto.

    While it is now routine for me to see major repairs to an ancient American automobile taking place on a narrow, busy street in Havana, I have to say that this little guy not only surprised but delighted me. As two men worked on the front door of the car, he sat on a stool, oblivious to his surroundings, his face obscured by a home-made mask. My first thought was that he was preparing for Halloween six months hence, but as far as I know, neither that holiday nor the custom of trick or treating is celebrated in Cuba. Perhaps he was pretending to be a luchador, but boxing, not wrestling, is venerated in his country. If he was playing at being a superhero, what was the purpose of the plastic bag?

    In the end, I just enjoyed the uniquely Cuban scene that I had encountered, made a couple of photographs of it, and decided that he was doing what little boys everywhere in the world do when they have the opportunity: he was being a boy. I can think of worse ways to spend a morning.

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