There are some people who can just walk up to a person and make conversation in the most kind and natural way. I’m definitely not one of those people. But Jerry is. His ability to quickly bond and make friends gave him the chance to be asked by total strangers to take part at an intense dominoes game in Cuba. Here’s the story.
After a morning of teaching conversational English at the community center in Ciego de Avila, volunteers usually go out for little walks to find out those interesting places every town has. One of this places was an arts & crafts store, where local elderly artists sold their wonderful work. While the rest of the volunteers were finishing up their souvenir and gift shopping, Jerry walked towards the street right outside the store where you could hear a lively conversation going on. There he saw a picture you might be able to see in Miami, and for sure everywhere in Cuba. A bunch of men around a table in the street playing an intense dominoes game. It is sunny, loud music coming from the house, a bunch of people gather around the table to watch the game, and both conversation and laughter make you want to join in. It is just one of those little things in life you should do.
Jerry just walk towards the table and stood there to watch. I joined him. The players quickly acknowledged him and ask him where he was from. They seemed somewhat surprised when they heard he was American. Jerry clearly wanted to join them, but he was a little scared about the speed of the game. Plus, I didn’t know how to ask them, or if I should. But Jerry, being friendly as he is, started communicating with the players and the people around with a mixture of gestures and nods that everyone seemed to understand. One of the players finally asked Jerry to join. Jerry hesitated at first. It was just too fast and he didn’t want to intrude. The player insisted and promised he will help him, they would play together. The other players nod and show they will take it easy on him.
A dominoes game in Cuba is just a small moment, but a significant one. Strangers and foreigners being kind to each other and letting each other in. They don’t care about the politics. Perhaps we could put those aside for a moment, and, like Jerry, walk towards the strangers, be friendly, and enjoy a wonderful moment of sharing, learning, and enjoying. Perhaps is time for you to join on a service program to Cuba.