National Geographic : 2012 Nov
' the revolution. But I never did. People would nod and say they understood. Or they'd point to a framed picture---on a wall, hanging from a rearview mirror---of a relative who'd already done the same thing. "But I'd tell him to make sure he's doing it for himself, not somebody else's expectation of him," Higuera said. "And I'd ask him to look hard at what he sees in other places. I really do have hope that things are improving here." A week later I went home, and I waited for Eduardo to call me collect, as we'd both arranged, from somewhere in South Florida. Two weeks passed without a call. en another week, and then another. I tried the Havana cell phone Edu- ardo had been using, but there was no answer, and nally I called his brother, who immigrated to Mexico a few years ago to marry a Mexican woman he had met in Cuba. e phone connection was bad, and I wasn't sure how much was safe to say. I was an Ameri- can who had befriended Eduardo in Havana, I said, and I just wondered---how he was, that was all. I said he had spoken of an impending vaca- tion. His brother became very excited. "He didn't make it," he said in Spanish. He was shouting into the phone. " ere was a problem with the boat. El timón. ey didn't make it." I didn't have my dictionary in reach, and I didn't know what a timón was, and all I could think was that it was like tiburón, which means shark. "Tell me what that means," I said urgently, and Eduardo's brother said he didn't know how to describe it exactly but that it was a boat part, a thing that had failed before they were too far out, and it was all right, they had used the oars, they were back in Cuba. No one was arrested. He was going to wait a while, Eduardo's brother said, and stay in their mother's apartment with his wife while he saved some more money. A er we hung up I got the dictionary. A timón is a rudder. I had a picture in my mind now, what had happened to Eduardo: Floating in the sea, the rudder broken, he and his companions had surely discussed it for a time, what would happen if they tried to motor on, toward a land- fall they couldn't see, with nothing beneath them to keep the direction true. en they turned the boat around, back into the piece of the ocean they already knew, and rowed home. j Cock ghting is a long-standing tradition that survived the revolution and thrives in rural settings. is young Cuban cradles a contestant in the province of Pinar del Río.