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A person is just a person. Two can make up a couple. Three people are already a group. To become a real group, however, one needs more than mere number: people must be united by something, be it a common idea, some sort of clothing or something having to do with a big, heavy word: destiny. A certain circumstance, place or atmosphere may as well bring people together and keep them as one.

A classic example is that of the so-called groupies, the ones that follow their favourite bands everywhere, identifying themselves in style and behaviour with the artists. The long-distance train passengers board such a common destiny in their turn, which associates them for a while and makes them alike in view of a destination, recalling the root of the momentous word mentioned earlier. Everybody believes that, ultimately, they will reach the end of the journey, and this unconfessed feeling binds them together, gathers them under the same umbrella just as those chess lovers who watch games being played in a park join a different kind of trip.

Spending a while in Cuba, I traced this idea and catalogued a series of such groups. Here are some of them:

  1. The baseball commentators’ group (in Havana). There is a park, not far from the Capitol, where the fans of various teams come together and argue about the championship. More often than not, they seem on the point of jumping at each other’s throats. Usually, the most vociferous prevail – they support their opinions gesticulating wildly, rhetorize, feel good and, more than anything, have a sense of making themselves heard.
  2. Baseball fans

  3. The alcoholics anonymous’ group (in Manzanillo). Somewhere near the railway station, at midday, this group has a really good time. They have reached the climax of a makeshift drinking binge, when the whole world is beautiful and all people must be loved irrespective of their colour, religion, sexual or political choices. They have taken over a street corner and are ready to recruit anyone willing to join in provided they chip in, of course, with a new bottle of rum.
  4. Bums Manzanillo

  5. The former sports glories’ group (in Santa Clara). Dominoes is their last stronghold, the last sport they can still play before their final victory. Former boxing, baseball or bodybuilding champions, they are all retirees now. Everything is now just black-and-white history visibly displayed on a wall behind them. They are as stern as a flock of ravens. For them, life cannot be taken lightly anymore. Even the game of Dominoes is worth the utmost sobriety.
  6. Champs

  7. The broody commuters’ group (on a train). They told stories, modelled for my camera, ate, watched the sugar cane fields passing by, sucked on lollypops (a sacred tradition on any Cuban train), and now it’s over, there’s nothing left to say. It’s one of those moments when you can hear thoughts colliding in people’s heads. Their destiny is nothing but their destination.
  8. Commuters

  9. The ice cream worshippers’ group (in Havana). The best ice cream you can get is to be found at Copellia’s; that is undisputable, everybody knows it. Fresca, Vanilla, Chocolate – never mind how long the queue is, it is worthwhile. The trouble is that there are two access ways: one for foreigners, where you don’t have to stand in line, and another one, for locals, where you do. The first one welcomes you into the heaven of ice cream, whereas the second one keeps you waiting forever. The world is unjust and, therefore, people could use a little solidarity, so I decided to drool and sweat along with my Cuban brothers. And, yes, after queuing for one hour, Coppelia’s ice cream truly tastes the best in the world.
  10. Coppelia

  11. The dancers and acrobats’ group (in Bayamo). They were young, handsome, lively and joyful while dancing, prancing or rapping around. In any case, the music was turned up extremely loud. Suddenly, one of them did some sort of a shoulder stand and then started bending. Eventually, he got into the position in the picture herewith. Silence fell, the music stopped and I’ll never know whether that boy really touched the concrete with his heels or not, that’s how stirring that moment was.
  12. Gymnasts

  13. The those-proud-that-one-of-their-friends-has-a-girlfriend’s group (in Cienfuegos). And not only that the guy was the only one having a girlfriend, but he had also had a tattoo done on his arm in red letters that spelled: Michel y Amanda. And then there was one more reason his friends so admired him: he was also the only one who, as he was practising gymnastics, could perform frontflips and backflips.
  14. Michel y Amanda

  15. The angry people’s group (in Santiago). This was because they had to wait for some papers in front of the Treasury early in the morning. The true queue was inside, but the Cubans are amazingly patient when it comes to queuing, regardless of what they are waiting for. On top of that, they are also quite civil. They always ask who “el ultimo” is so that they may avoid any quarrel.
  16. Ministerio

  17. The revolutionary pioneers’ group (in Manzanillo). At the end of every January, celebrations are held in honour of Jose Marti’s birthday, the Cuban poet-hero who should have never gone to war with the Spaniards clad in black on a white horse. The pioneers joyfully carry a tragic picture of his death on the battlefield. But that happened a long time ago. For the children, it’s just a holiday, when classes are cancelled so that everybody could attend the festivities.
  18. Pioneers

  19. The soaked students’ group (in Santiago). It was warm and, then, all of a sudden, the sky got overcast and it started to bucket down with rain. That’s when these girls, who’d been soaked to the skin, popped out of nowhere laughing heartily. Then it cleared up and, despite the heat, it felt even wetter than before. There’s nothing much left to say: this is how it goes in the Carribean, especially during the rainy season.
  20. Santiago rain