Havana to Paris - Eerik Wissenz

De Citations et invités, 6. septembre 2018


Havana to Paris

I sat in the airport in Havana, I waited alone for the plane, and I was glad to be leaving just after six months there. To where I was going, however, was an entirely different matter. I was glad to be leaving Havana, as the pollution is thick and the dust is thick, and we often slept on the floor. It was five floors down to running water, and buses never came on the hour.

It was not that we did not do what we had set out to do, that we clearly did. Testing solar technology in poor conditions went very well, but our living conditions went not. We did not eat well, and we did not sleep well, and we did not breath well in Havana. Except for the air however, Havana was not to blame, a strange set of circumstances kept us from living that good, and our bodies and minds slowly wore. A bizarre situation we entered, and we lacked vitamins and variety, and our bodies and minds slowly wore ; the students we lived with went to bed late, and we could not nap in the day. But a strange set of circumstances allowed us to live in Havana, and advance the work we had come to advance, beyond what we thought we could do. So though I was glad to be leaving, it was only because no more could we do, and now our visas were gone, and elsewhere there was work to be done. I was glad we had gone to Havana, but that is another adventure.

I laid down on a bench in the airport and pondered that slow sort of ponder, where there was no use in thought for the future as there was no information whatever. What would happen in Paris ? was something I couldn’t predict. I couldn’t predict in the slightest. It could be good and it could be bad and it could be something I can’t even imagine. So there was no use thinking of Paris, but there was nothing else needing thought. So I wondered what would happen in Paris, and pondered that slow sort of ponder, that slow slightly uneasy ponder, just wanting to make it to Paris, no surprises till I made it to Paris : that I was at the right gate for the right plane, at the right time of day, and the authorities would let me escape. For whatever happens in Paris, I’ll at least be on the right land mass, the land mass where the things I think need doing can be done. I could see no way there’d be a surprise, I saw no problem to solve, so I pondered that slow sort of ponder, and waited for the plane to arrive. I was filled with that feeling only the true adventurer feels. It is not fear, nor is it excitation. It is not expectation, nor is nervousness. It is only the simple knowledge that one is about to pass through a door, walk down a path, and cross a bridge and one would not look back.

The plane was another dimension where there was nothing that could go wrong. The plane could crash of course, but that would be fine with me. My ethics clearly state, that I need but to try my best. So if I try and fail, due to circumstance beyond my control, then I’d have done what I set out to do. A crash, or a fall, or a heart attack would be a noble enough end, to let’s hope a noble journey. But though it might be convenient it is no use thinking of, for those circumstances beyond your control, one cannot control. I couldn’t know what would happen in Paris, and I didn’t have to stay aware : nothing I could see could go wrong. For the plane ride to Paris, for that brief plane ride to Paris, I didn’t have any cares. I ordered as much juice as I dared, and I slept without any fear. I was shocked by the incredible opulence, but little thought did I have to spare. More juice s’il vous plaît, more juice.

So the plane lands in Paris, and I got off with my bag of assumptions. Six months ago in Ottawa, we packed in just over two days, and set out by bus to Miami, to find some way to make it to Cuba. To the Bahamas was our plan, as there is an embargo with Cuba. To where we would go we didn’t know, nor did we know who we’d meet. We had but our bag of assumptions, which told us things would go pretty sweet. We knew many of these assumptions were most likely wrong, but we had brought something for that along. We also assumed that when an assumption was wrong, we’d find some other way around it. This was to be sure an assumption as well, but we were confident that if it turned out to be wrong, we’d find some way around it. For that is the advantage of studying logic, plans can be made out nothing, and one can feel confident about them, for they are logically sound. Yes plans can be made out of nothing, and to nothing they often amount. However, if you looked into our trusty bag, you’d see we were prepared, for we assumed that this would not be our case, and that if this assumption was wrong, we’d find someway around it. Essentially all of our assumptions in Cuba turned out to be clearly absurd, except the inarguable fact that another way we found, but that is another story.

So I landed in Paris and got off the plane with my bag of assumptions. But this bag was only one of five I had, and unlike my bag of assumptions, the other four had weight. One carried my 288 megahertz laptop, that was something like ten years old. It had gone with me to Finland, and went with me back again. It had gone to me to Mexico, and still it hasn’t slowed. It had been sent to me in Cuba. But all t’is another adventure. A second laptop bag had no laptop in it, but rather the odds and ends convenient to have on a trek such as this, such as my military issue canteen, and my lovely bag of mixed nuts. The other two bags I waited for : one was a travelers back pack, and one was a duffel bag, each weighing 20 kilos. Altogether my equipment weighed in at just over 45 kilos. I waited for the bags and I did not know how to feel. I was not nervous and I was not afraid, neither was I excited. I did not know what would happen, only that I had just walked through a door and down a path and over a bridge, and I would not look back.

After some waiting my bags came and I put them on the trolley upon which I had been sitting. I walked through immigration and out into the long hall of the airports. Ten days ago I’d bought a ticket to Marseille where a friend I met in Havana lives, but nine days ago I changed my mind. A colleague I happened to work with came across news of the energy conference in Madrid. Ha, it t’was on the twenty sixth, and I had a layover in Paris on the twenty fifth. I figured there was more traffic between Paris and Madrid than Marseille and Madrid, and so Paris to Madrid would be cheaper, though this turned out to be wrong.

I bought a telephone card with credit and I phoned up this stranger in Paris, who offered to hang on to some of my stuff, as I trekked out across the continent.

- Hello, I said, It’s Eerik from Cuba.

- From couch surfers, oh yeah. Did you get my email ?

- No, I replied.

She proceeded to explain that over the weekend the land lord got her to move all her stuff out of her apartment for he was going to paint it. The next day the apartment was leased to someone else for presumably better pay. It seemed she had more problems than I, so from her I could make no request. I thanked her and said that it wasn’t a problem. We said our goodbyes and that we’d discuss next time we both were in Paris. I hung up the phone with shock in my heart and the simple fear in my mind of knowing that I had just walked through a door and down a path and over a bridge, and to hell with walking back.

What can I say, I had no idea what would happen. Suddenly I had to face to truth, that I seemed to be totally screwed. And such is a hard thing to do. I had a hundred pounds of gear and a bad case of bronchitis. Four days ago, next to our dwelling, a garbage fire was lit and for two days it burned. Long ago I had lost my reason, but only now I had lost my rhyme.

Eerik Wissenz
(July 2007)