• Travel, Movie Reviews, And More Musings

A Salute to A Cuban Driver

 

It’s easy to love Cuba –the way the people express their love for music is evident by the many wonderful displays of Cuban music sung outside outdoor cafes and the tourist bus stop.  But the Cubans also display a love for animals, too, such as small dogs, which roam the streets unleashed and happy.

Even in the  center of old Havana, where the grand old Catedral de San Cristobal stands impressively with its baroque facade, we sat drinking a cold beer, while listening to live music in an outdoor restaurant . Nearby, a  well-mannered dog sat nearby, seemingly accustomed to the sight of new visitors with their foreign voices and cameras.  A slender cat also slithered underneath the many outdoor chairs and tables. Elsewhere, I saw a group of contented cats play-fight amongst each other, ignoring the occasional dog and passersby.

During our trip,  we took an early morning outing  to view  ancient caves  in the picturesque and rural Vinales valley, just outside Havana. As we walked around the area, a group of small and friendly dogs greeted  us, licking our hands and showing genuine affection. One dog even took to having his belly rubbed, rolling on the ground enthusiastically.

It seems everywhere we went we met well-fed and well mannered dogs. They waundered around the small shopping block in Vinales, in groups or singly, happily taking some bottled water from me.

These carefree, amiable dogs seemed to be everywhere.  The Cuban peoples’s love for animals was not just limited to small dogs.

As we sat behind our big, tough-looking  Cuban-speaking driver whom we hired to take us from the tabacco-rich Vinales valley to Havana, I witnessed many occasions in which his gentler side appeared: he honked his horn, slowed down or stopped his car so that small chickens and the occasional chicklet could cross the street safely. He stopped and/or honked his horn to warn other animals, such as goats, or large work animals to get out of danger.  This caring attitude towards animals in Cuba that I witnessed must be contrasted with the type of selfish and impatient attitude that I commonly see among drivers in Canada. Animals, such as small cats and dogs, and the occasional wildlife kind, such as racoons, are often killed or seriously injured by Canadian drivers who drive too fast and feel that an animal’s life is meaningless. In our fast and competitive life-style, we often overlook the fact that we share the planet with animals, too, which have as much right to life as we do.

I love the fact that the Cuban people seems to value the life of an animal as much as their own. If only their kind attitudes towards animals could be just as infectious in Canada.  A kindler, gentler approach is what we, as Canadians, can learn from ordinary Cuban drivers.

God bless Cuban drivers.

 

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