In 1998, during my first few months in Cuba, I went to Havana´s vast Revolution Square – along with hundreds of thousands of Cubans, foreign visitors and press – to witness the arrival of the frail, but very popular, then- Pope, John Paul 11.
14 years on, this morning los Habaneros again took to the streets to welcome the present Pope – Benedict XVI. Officially, the Holy See is here to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the patroness saint of Cuba – the Virgin of Charity (Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre). The minute gold statue of this Virgin was recently taken on a whistle-stop, province-to-province tour of the island and attracted thousands of devoted followers.
My lovely neighbours, Juan and Ana (of the famous food boxes), are clearly very happy that Pope Benedict is here, but Ana decided she would neither go to the Square, nor to the end of the road to see him – no importa that the Popemobile passed only three blocks away from her house!
But ´´Nonononono´´, she said, ´´I´m taping the whole thing and will sit down, after supper, after a shower, and watch it in peace and quiet. Do you want to come over?´´