A True Tale Of Rascals, Rogues And Romance

Unless you live in south Florida most Americans know very little about Cuba, it is just a small communist controlled island some 90 miles off shore. In many ways it is the last bastion on the cold war. Since the early 1960’s the island was been off limits to the average American. It’s only other claim to fame is being home to the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison camp where over 300 terrorists are currently being detained.

Wanda St. Hilaire is a Canadian, and as such, Cuba is a fairly popular tourist destination. Wanda is a successful business person who has a penchant for travel, and some pretty interesting theories on men and love.

The last minute cancellation of of vacation to Mexico leaves Wanda in a quandary, and in a snap decision decides to explore the wonders of Cuba, the culture, and of course the men!

The Cuban Chronicles is written in a ‘Dear Diary’ fashion, part travelogue, part musings about the past, and part a self analysis of her needs and wants.

Wanda leads us gently into the exotic island of Cuba, the Prisoners Paradise Island as she calls it at one point. Cuba is an enigma, while the government calls it a workers paradise, it is far from it. On her first visit to Cuba Wanda views the the island through some rose colored glasses, finding the good and skillfully avoiding the seamier aspects, or at least downplaying them.

It is on this visit that she meets a Cuban man, Paulo, ruggedly handsome, the die are cast. Wanda quickly finds herself at the mercy of her Latin lover. Returning to Canada they maintain a long distance love affair via the phone and occasional email. There is to be a much anticipated reunion over the Christmas holiday with Wanda once more returning to Cuba, this time though the plan is not to stay in a hotel, but rather a private rented apartment.

Even before leaving for the Christmas of a lifetime Wanda is beginning to have some misgivings, little things are beginning to bother her. Paulo is most certainly a taker rather than a giver, he has some great plans for the vacation, but all seem to rest on Wanda’s money.

I don’t think I need to explain the plot any further, suffice it to say that dream vacation rapidly descended into Dante’s Inferno. Paulo clearly viewed Wanda as his meal ticket out of Cuba, a not uncommon occurrence not just in Cuba, but parts of eastern Europe and Asia. Through air travel and the internet we live in an every shrinking world. Predators abound. In Wanda’s case it was male, but there are an equal number of females attempting the same escape route.

The Cuba Chronicles is an interesting book, and one that operates on several levels. You can read it as a straight story, a novel of an independent woman’s view on life, almost the book version of ‘Sex and the city’, with scandalous hijinks going on. You can also read it and see the darker side of human nature at work. It was this view that I took. Caveat Emptor, buyer beware, when engaging in long distance love affairs.

My wife and I have many online friends, and we have a few that just never seem to learn the dangers. Every few months we hear some new tale of woe, some great love affair from afar that has become derailed. The international financier with a private jet and houses across the globe is actually an unemployed bum sponging off his aging mother, the fashion model, with pictures to prove it, is some toothless hag with 5 children and on government assistance. Oh and of course the all time favorite…. HE’S MARRIED!

Read this book, it will open your eyes.

You can order your copy from Amazon.

Simon Barrett

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