Thursday, 21 February 2019

Oddments of my Cuban learning. Reflections on things political. And some stuff about vitamins.

Some things we learnt in Cuba:

  •  There is a tree with spikey thorns all over its trunk and branches. It has a fancy latin name but is known locally as “el arbol de la suegra”, which translates as “the mother-in-law tree”! 
  •  The Cubans do not seem to know what grapefruit is. When I asked if they had grapefruit juice I received blank looks. When I described the fruit, only one of the girls serving breakfast had any idea what it might be and she did not call it “pomelo” but something completely different. 
  • Chickens roamed free all over the place in Viñales, partly because there are no foxes. 
  •  A piña colada without alcohol is a very refreshing drink. 
  • The farmer who served us this drink referred to adding rum as adding vitamin R. Nice one! 
  • Che is not a name. In Argentina “che” is used as a way of greeting an old friend, rather like “mate”. However it became a permanent part of the name of Ernesto Guevara, known everywhere as Che. 
  •  Small, white, heron-like birds are seen sitting on the backs of oxen. They have a symbiotic relationship with the oxen, eating tics of the backs of the big beasts. 
  •  Small vultures soar on the thermals of the Viñales valley - probably in other parts Cuba as well, but we saw them in the Viñales valley - looking remarkably like the red kites that soar over my son’s house in Buckinghamshire. Unlike the red kites, these vultures have bright red heads, but they are less ugly than larger vultures which I have seen in zoos. They help keep the valley clean as they scavenge for dead animals for food. Natural ecology at work! 
Photos of the Viñales valley will hopefully appear in my post tomorrow, when I might just get my hands on the computer again!

While my friend and I have been away the main political parties in this country seem to have gone further into melt down. Phil and I are off to Spain next week. Goodness knows what state the UK will be in when we return.

There is talk once again of the possible need for a visa if UK citizens want to visit Europe in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This is all because of disagreements over the sovereignty of Gibraltar. As far as I am concerned, the Spanish can keep the place. I feel much the same about the Falkland Islands and Argentina. But then I am not a resident of Gibraltar or the Falklands and I suppose their feelings should be taken into account. And maybe Spain could think about returning Ceuta and Melilla to Morocco!

A friend of mine is travelling to Germany just before Brexit day, returning on the 30th of March. He wonders if he needs to pay for a return ticket or if he can count on Germany repatriating him for having no visa!

I read something in today’s newspaper online about newborn babies and vitamin K. The article was written by an American paediatrician and so was very much from an American point of view. There it seems to be routine that newborn babies receive an injection of vitamin K. Vitamin helps the blood clot. Babies are apparently born with vitamin K deficiency, especially babies delivered by Caesarian section or ventouse, and so are vulnerable to the baby equivalent of a stroke.

Some new mothers refuse the injection, as they refuse vaccination a against measles and mumps and rubella and so on, sometimes on religious grounds, sometimes on mistaken idealogical grounds, sometimes advised by their midwife.

I tried unsuccessfully to discover if this practice is also routine in the UK. I must ask my daughter if her hospital offered this vaccination when her daughter was delivered by section. I do not remember it being talked about 40 years ago when I was having babies.

Maybe nobody knew about it back in the day!

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