For the last week we’ve received many phone calls asking the same question: “What’s the atmosphere in Havana? Is it true what’s been rumored?” I tell them the temperature is a little lower, it hasn’t rained and I comment that they’re going to ease up on the licenses for taxis.

Those who inquire become cryptic, I imagine so that they will do me no harm, but I just don’t understand what they want to know, because as it turns out I don’t have a sick uncle and when I was born my grandfather (who was mambí*) was no longer among the living. Yes, it’s true that there are more police on the streets, but Granma explained that it’s for better traffic control. It’s false that flowers are scarce and that you have to work to find rum in the market. As far as I know, there have been no mass arrests, nor have they renovated the tunnels or the bomb shelters.

I haven’t noticed any perceptible changes, though perhaps, and this is totally subjective, the air seems more transparent and the earth a little lighter, but I don’t think those are the kinds of details friends are asking about.

Translator’s notes
Poster: Top text = The Youth, Bottom Text = We will not fail.
Mambí: A soldier who fought against Spain in the Cuban War of Independence (1895-98).