Author: Mariana S. Gaona

Cuba para Turistas [2da. Parte]

Cuba espera recibir más de 4 millones de turistas en el 2017 según el Ministerio de Turismo de Cuba (Mintur). Dentro de La Habana vieja, en la calle Obispo, los turistas se detienen a escuchar al hombre que crea un ambiente musical con su guitarra, armónica y animales de madera que mueve con un pie. En las calles aledañas las casas son verdes, amarillas o azules con balcones donde la ropa se seca al sol y el viento mueve las sábanas en cámara lenta. Dos mujeres están sentadas afuera de sus casas discutiendo sobre sus vecinos. Los jóvenes tratan de llamar la atención de las turistas con chiflidos. Las fachadas esconden ruinas entre sombras. El sol no toca las escaleras que sólo llegan al segundo piso de tres, se detienen frente a una ventana sin techo. Los turistas no se asoman, siguen caminando.   En la calle principal de Viñales sólo se pueden distinguir a los turistas. El pueblo se encuentra a 3 horas de La Habana y es conocido por sus campos de tabaco …

Cuba para Turistas [1era. Parte]

La avioneta sobrevuela los edificios bajos de los suburbios en La Habana. El sol se refleja en el polvo hecho tierra de la ventana en el piso 14 del hotel Tritón. El biplano se asemeja a los aviones de combate de la Segunda Guerra Mundial con hélice en la trompa y alas rectas paralelas. La hélice calla al único elevador que servía para todos los huéspedes.   La mucama con el carro de limpieza y los turistas ven en números rojos pasar el piso 14 hasta el 22 dónde el elevador terminaba su recorrido y volvía a bajar. Las puertas se abren para revelar poco espacio. Los turistas entran al elevador, mientras la empleada cubana les da paso. Antes de que se cierren las puertas para bajar ellos la miran. Ella sólo les dice:   – Ya estoy acostumbrada.   El turismo ha tenido una relación complicada con Cuba. En los treintas, durante la prohibición en Estados Unidos, la isla tuvo un gran auge con turistas estadounidenses porque el alcohol era legal. Los estadounidenses siguieron …

Swiss Army Man

The experience of watching Swiss Army Man can be summed up by the last quote of the movie, “What the fuck?” The movie that caused walkouts during its first screening at Sundance is pretty weird. However, a beautiful and well-soundtracked narrative drives its strangeness. The movie starts with garbage floating across the sea. Messages like “I’m so bored. I don’t want to die alone. Help me.” can be seen scribbled on juice boxes and a little boat made out of trash. Hank (Paul Dano), lost on a deserted island, is humming quietly while he adjusts the rope around his neck. But he sees someone (Daniel Radcliffe) wash ashore. Soon enough, Hank realizes the body is a flatulent corpse and returns to his suicidal start point. Before he gives the deadly step, the corpse farts its way into the sea. Hank runs while his joyous chants blend with the soundtrack. He mounts the corpse and uses his farts to propel him to safety. After, this first scene you know you have something special on your hands. …

Coraline

Coraline is an unexpected, different and utterly beautiful, stop-motion animated movie. It’s based on the book with the same name written by Neil Gaiman. Henry Selick, who directed “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” headed this movie. Selick creates a magical world, which not only Coraline wants to get lost in but anyone who gets a peek will do too. The unlikely road of Coraline to the big screen starts with the book it’s based on. Coraline is a children’s book that many have found a bit disturbing. The story gets darker and more adventurous as you go along. It might be because it’s not all yellow brick roads or chocolate factories. Maybe is the lack of adult supervision that 80s kids enjoyed, or the other mother’s macabre plan. Neil Gaiman always thought of Coraline as a kids’ story, which he wrote for her daughters. However, his literary agent, Merrilee Heifetz, thought the book was too scary for kids. Gaiman suggested that she should read it to her daughters, aged eight and six at the time, and …

When She Writes

I’m an avid reader but it was only when someone asked me which female authors were my favorites, I realized that I couldn’t even name five. There’s a difference when you are a woman and you read something written by a woman rather than a man, especially a memoir. The four books that I mention here are about the different life experiences of four women. However, the most notorious thing they have in common, other than being female, is that they are makers. “Furiously Happy” by Jenny Lawson could be sum up by the rest of its title: ‘A funny book about horrible things.’ The book starts with the usual “advance praise” quotes from Dickens, Hemingway, Dostoyevsky and Ms. Lawson’s shrink, you’ll know it’s not the usual memoir right from the start. In these stories, Ms. Lawson describes her day-to-day struggles with mental illness. She also discusses her love for taxidermied animals and how sometimes they like to ride her cat. She shares laugh out loud stories about her depression, anxiety, self-harm, her shrinks, her …

The Opposite Of Loneliness

“The Opposite of Loneliness” is a collection of short stories and essays by Marina Keegan. The book was published due to the author’s untimely death. She passed away in a car accident only five days after her college graduation. She was 22. We can debate on whether Keegan’s work would have been published if she were alive or if her potential would have been met and made her a famous writer. This is what we have, a small collection of her written works put together by her loved ones and the reality that she can’t defend herself from her critics. The book comes with the tragedy of her author attach to it. It can guide our reading on how we judge this work. At least, it steered my own experience. It reminded me of the fragility and finite bounds that encompass our lives. Our potential could be unlocked at any moment, in a month, a year, a decade, or not at all. Maybe we’ll never live up to it. It can slip away from our …

Big Magic

“Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert could be considered a self-help book. She even acknowledges it in a few chapters. However, this book is about the creative process. It’s a book for every creative person that has doubted themselves or anyone who needs a “legitimacy pass” to pursue their heart’s desire, it’s even for the people that don’t consider themselves to be creative. This book is an encouragement to live a creative life. It touches on several myths about creativity and a creative personality, which might be revered by some. Like the writers that transform their demons into their muse or the artists that suffer while creating art. This book demystifies the almost romantic idea of justifying your shitty mess of a life in order to create. You don’t need to live in an abyss of suffering to make art. You’ll create in spite of it. “Big Magic” is divided into six chapters that might read as steps. It starts with Courage, continues with Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity. The book lays a path and the …

Lost in the Comment Section

When you get paid to be on Facebook for most of your day, you can’t avoid the comments of all the articles, photos, and videos on your feed. You lose your sense of time and space while you read opinions that navigate from rage to praise, through something that might sound smart and something that’s illegible. Even the topics that you would consider safe, like recipes, have managed to be polarizing. You’ll read violent hatred from strangers that comment on the headline of an article. These individuals are passionate about nonsense! There are videos on YouTube that their only appeal is the comments. They are what everyone’s thinking. Comments have become a new measurement on what people think about certain subjects. What is the real purpose behind the comment section? It’s immediate feedback from consumers. It’s an outlet for everyday life where you can pour your thoughts for someone else to read. It’s to leave a print so small that your comment is more likely to become data than it is to be read. Most …

The God Delusion [2da. Parte]

En México, un país dónde la mayoría de su población se identifica como católico, resulta incómodo decir “no creo en dios/religión” ya que recibes miradas de incomprensión total. Probablemente estén planeando tu salvación o no vuelvan a mencionar la religión en tu presencia. Muchas veces no lo puedes compartir en tu lugar de trabajo por que te puede ocasionar conflictos. También es muy común enfrentarte a la pregunta que le sigue, “¿Entonces en qué crees?” En nada. Pero sé. Sé que el hombre tiene la capacidad de crear cosas maravillosas, salvar vidas, amar, desear, existir sin asistencia divina. Sé que también tiene la capacidad de autodestruirse. El libro “The God Delusion” de Richard Dawkins es un gran argumento de por qué ser ateo es una opción racional ante la irracionalidad de la religión. Aunque yo esperaba un investigación científica o histórica descubriendo puntos similares entre religiones que nos han llevado a crear el mito de un “dios”. Es más un libro para convencerte de que el ateísmo no es algo que deberías esconder, ni avergonzarte …

The God Delusion [1ra. Parte]

“When one person suffers from a delusion it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion.” Religión, una de los temas más complicados para discutir y, de acuerdo a nuestros padres, de las conversaciones prohibidas que se deben mantener fuera de la mesa junto con la política. ¿Pero por qué no hablar de religión? Un tema que tiene puntos interesantes acerca de nuestra existencia humana. Por ejemplo, tratar de explicar cómo funciona el mundo, la raison d’être de tantas guerras, ideologías inverosímiles que atentan en contra de la dignidad humana. El complejo de inferioridad de los humanos al creer que sólo un ser omnipotente es la razón de sus grandes éxitos o el complejo de superioridad al creer que son hechos a la “imagen y semejanza” de un ser supremo que reina todo el universo. Las razones de por qué existe la religión son inagotables. Lo único infalible es que la religión como cualquier creación del hombre terminará, tal vez no mañana ni en 10 años pero acabará o …