Big fat cigars. Tropicana dancing girls. A guy named Fidel. Mojitos. Hemingway. This is not a book about the Cuba you already know . . .
This is an intensely personal on the road tale of what it's like to eat, drink, dance and be cautiously merry among ordinary (and not so ordinary) Cubans, told by a lone traveller who can take almost everything that's thrown at her - and just about everything is.
From risking life and limb pedalling across the country on her trusty folding bicycle, taking a voyage to Havana with the worst sailor in the world, grappling with man-sized mosquitoes along with the local male with mucho calor (loosely translated as 'a lotta hotta testosterone') and learning to live with the reality of a country that shuts down for an hour every day for a soap opera, Chiang discovers a wild and wonderful land that embraces life, love, food, family - and her.
'La China', as the Cubans called her, discovers a people who earn as little as $10 a month, yet refuse to accept money for help, arguing that 'friendship is better'. Who are rationed one bread roll a person per day, but insist she take her share 'for energy'. Who might have to choose between a bottle of shampoo or food in any given month, yet who seem strangely more at peace with themselves than the average wealthy foreigner.
This is not just a story about Cuba, but about what people were like before the world started spinning too fast to jump off.