Lost in Salsa fever
Eva Kowalski was born in 1956 and grew up in the Ruhr Valley and Frankfurt/Main. She left home at an early age and at that time she was the first girl ever to train as an auto mechanic. In order to satisfy her hunger for intellectual challenges, she studied education at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, where she was happiest attending lectures on philosophy, psychology and economics and she was politically active. After finishing she worked as an instructor for auto mechanics in Hamburg. An attempt to settle in New York failed due to the lack of a Green Card. Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall she was attracted to Berlin as a large city and she moved there, a step she has never regretted. Since then she has been working as a social worker. In addition to her work she spend her time taking photographs and doing salsa. In 1995 she visited Cuba for the first time and she succumbed to the fascination of the island, which she has since visited more than 20 times. During this time she has developed an in-depth knowledge of the island and its music scene. The novel 'Lost in Salsa fever' is her writing debut and has evolved out of her gratitude to her two favorite places, Cuba and Berlin. At the moment she is working on her second novel.
Lost in Salsa fever
With satisfied faces they sat on the wall and passed the rum back and forth. This time it was one of the better brands.
"She gave me all her change and all the notes she had left. She wouldn't need them anymore anyway and changing the CUC 1 wouldn't be worth the hassle," he said casually while looking down at his brand-new Nike trainers.
"I brought mine to the airport and then I explained that I didn't have any money for a taxi. She really thought that you could only get into the city from the airport with a taxi and that at tourist prices. Me a Cuban! She gave me 25 CUC without batting an eyelid. And then she finished by saying she'd fallen in love with me."
They all laughed as the rum was passed round again. "And what did you say?"
"That I'd like to write to her, but in Cuba that wasn't so easy. The Internet cafés are so expensive. An hour costs 10 CUC and on top of that the connection sucks. You have to pay a lot even for a little letter. She asked me something about whether they still work with modems or something like that and then she pressed another 100 CUC into my hand. I gave my neighbor's phone number, maybe she'll want more after all. But I know all about that already, after a month at the latest she'll have forgotten me."
Orlando poked his buddy in the side. "Not bad, your tip about the Bachata songs."
His buddy gave him a puzzled look.
"Yeah, that I should take the lyrics and pretend they were my poems. She believed everything. And do you know what she always said when I read my poems to her? I was romantic and so talented!"
The young men roared with laughter.
"I'll have to try that sometime."
"Me too." Ernesto took off his sunglasses and shoved them onto his head. "Miguelito has really made it, he's even picked up a young one."
"Yeah, but she doesn't have any money; so how's he supposed to get to Sweden?" Orlando waved the bottle about a bit.
"Because she got pregnant on the very first day. She'll manage to get it done." Ernesto shoved his sunglasses back onto his nose.
The good rum was soon finished and full of energy they got up and headed off to the concert. Life could be so beautiful.
On the bus
Julia and Simone got on the bus and stayed standing behind the bus driver. That was the place with the best view.
The driver had a leisurely driving style and through the bus windows they were able to look at the many old houses with their faded weathered façades. Only a few of them had been lovingly renovated with fresh paint. Small groups of children in beige school uniforms stood in front of tables that had been set up and were stocked with homemade cookies for a couple of Pesos Cubanos 2 . Again and again you could see sales stands with hand-painted price lists that looked a bit makeshift. Here coffee, local fruit juices, buns and fried plantain were on offer. In between there were craft services that were often carried out right outside the houses, the workers surrounded by inquisitive people and old pensioners still participating in social life. "In Cuba nobody has to feel alone, that's what's nice about life here," said Simone looking at the men repairing bikes and car tires outside the shop.
She was impressed by the Party's billboards calling on people to defend socialism, the Che Guevara pictures and the exhortations to hold out written in gigantic letter.
Curiously the two of them looked at Cuban women wearing figure-hugging, colorful outfits and elaborately styled hairdos; the women obviously took great care of their appearance. Most of them were probably coming from work or shopping.
The men in the bus liked to get close; they stood right behind Julia and her friend and were pleased when the bus braked, the two tourists swayed backwards and they were able to touch their arm or tummy. It sme