Saturday, July 11, 2009

Montana to Idaho

photos and video soon ..... the connection from pocatello is really slow so it might have to wait .... some photos here ....

over a rice & beans dinner, with fresh organic salad from the garden, susan and bob told me about their experiences with cuba and the caravan. bob drove the very first caravan, into nicaragua. susan was formerly a clinical social worker, helping mental health patients define themselves as something other than 'schizophrenic' or whatever they'd been labelled. she told me about a visit to havana's mental health facility.

they were greeted by an orchestra, which was clearly comprised of both workers and patients, though it wasn't clear which were whom. one of the first things fidel and the revolutionaries did, susan told me, was transform this institutionalized place into a facility where people could find their talents and express themselves. inside, she witnessed people with various mental health concerns displaying their artwork, or practicing ballet. at the end of their visit they were treated to a music and dance performance.

we talked about how different the cuban approach is from ours in north america, where patients are (essentially) labelled, medicated, and put in front of a television.

but we don't live in a society that was created by a people's uprising. we live in a society that was established by the elite, for themselves and their wealthy friends. they were never concerned about the less fortunate, those people just get in the way. in our north america, people who are poor, or infirm, or mentally challenged are problems to be dealt with by making them as invisible as possible. our society is not about caring for every single individual, providing them with the tools necessary to become fully functioning creative citizens.

we agreed that che would be pleased with cuba's health care system, though we're not sure how he'd feel about being a rock star - his face pasted onto t-shirts that are sold in the private/public partnership all inclusive hotels on the beaches.

the next day ...

i awoke at 4am in my futon room, likely the last private room i'll see for a while, from dreams/nightmares about missing the connection in pocatello, and witnessing an airplane that almost crash landed after being swept onto its side by a strong wind. i think it's because i'm reading margaret atwood's "bodily harm," and connected with the character's idea that airplanes are really just impossibly heavy pieces of machinery that only achieve flight because of the determination of their passengers. any loss of faith and the things wouldn't fly. plus, it won't be long before i'm aboard an old russian air cubana flight.

susan created a magnificent oatmeal and dried fruit breakfast, reaching for dishes from the beautiful douglas fir cupboards that bob built (and yes, we talked about sustainable logging rather than the devastation of clearcutting and shipping raw logs) and we loaded bella the dog into the car and headed for the mountains and beyond. i listened to many stories about the caravans, bob having driven point on the very first caravan to cuba, and we continued the previous night's conversations of activism and politics and what a whacky world it is and how can we possibly manifest some significant change.