My Cuban Friend

 

The palm trees and the sun. That's all I could see as I looked up. It was beautiful.

I was lazing in the pool, sipping on my strawberry daiquiri, half attempting to throw a ball into a basketball hoop.

I was failing.

Other then myself and one other guy, the pool was empty. He looked to be in his mid-twenties. He was wearing an LA Lakers' vest, and had a cool pair of 'shades' on.  He was singing a about his Sex on the Beach cocktail.

He must've noticed me struggling with my ball, because he waded over to me, and asked to play.

He's going to be great at this basketball stuff, I thought. After all, he was wearing an LA Lakers' top, and they're one of the best basketball teams in the world right?

He missed.

He didn't mind though. He laughed at himself and then threw the ball back over to me. We took it in turns, missing, and laughing out ourselves.

Occasionally one of us would fluke one in, and we'd give each other an appreciative nod, as if to say 'well played my friend'. 

After a good ten minutes of this, we both tired and sat on the poolside.

'My name is Thomas,' he told me, all the while smiling. We had one of those awkward conversations where a great language barrier sits between you, and you repeat yourself over and over, and your five minute conversation soon becomes a fifteen minute conversation. 

 I think he said he worked with fabrics, and that he was only staying in the hotel for a couple of days.

I noticed that he didn't have a coloured band on his wrist, like the rest of the people staying. I wondered where Thomas came from, but I didn't ask.

He told me to take his number, and to give him a call if I went to Havana again. He promised he would take me partying and did a little dance with his head. I thought about joining in with the dance, but I didn't.

 

He asked me if I'd ever been to Cuba before, and I said no, and I asked him if he'd ever been to England.

For the first time, his smile faded slightly.

'Here in Cuba, for us, it is virtually impossible to leave the country,' he said.

He sipped the last drops of his cocktail, which was now mostly ice-water. I got him another one, and said goodbye, as I had to go get ready for dinner.

On the plane home, I wondered if Thomas would ever get to see a different country to his own.

Sat next to me, my girlfriend squeezed my hand.

'Where'd you want to go next year?' she said.