Cuba Libre

Illustration for article titled Cuba Libre

Check out "Kids Not Poor in Spirit," a story about pickup baseball in Havana written by Bonnie DeSimone for the Chicago Tribune back in 1998:

Close your eyes and translate in your head. Keep your eye on the ball. This is Brooklyn, this is Chicago, this is Oakland a half-century ago when boys played baseball to the exclusion of all other sports. They played pickup, the way this group does in Havana, at the same place at the same time every day, on any available patch of dirt or asphalt or grass.

There is a 2-year-old in the park who can mimic a pitching windup, his chubby leg barely lifting off the ground as he kicks. There is a 3-year-old who knows how to waggle his rear end and tap his plastic bat on the plate. There are older men out with the smallest boys. Cuba may have a high divorce rate and an uncertain economic future, but someone is teaching the kids to throw and catch.

However, the home to which Osmani obediently returns at 7 o'clock each night for dinner, in the section of Havana called Cerro, couldn't be farther away from the flush self-importance of postwar America. He shares a dilapidated two-story wood and concrete house with his mother and stepfather, two half-brothers, a cousin, an ardently revolutionary grandmother, eight enormous hogs, two dogs and a small flock of chickens.

To the uninitiated, the primitive conditions inside are overwhelming. Yet Osmani and his family obviously don't consider themselves poor, and love is palpable amid the flies and the stench. The lives led in these rooms embody all the contradictions of modern existence in Cuba.


And while you are at it, dig "Commie Ball," Michael Lewis' 2009 Vanity Fair piece on baseball in Cuba.

Illustration for article titled Cuba Libre

[Photo Via: Banana Skin Flip Flops]