The minute we got back to our hotel, the Parque Central, we hurried over to the bellman’s desk and asked him if he had a Cuba phone book. He looked up the name Nancy Jimenez for us and said there were about 15 listings. But only three of them were actually in or near Havana. Greg could not contain his excitement.
“So how do I call Nancy Jimenez?” he asked the bellman. Without answering, the bellman picked up the phone and dialed the first number. That was pretty much a bust. The Nancy Jimenez he spoke do did have a relative in the U.S., but not in California. And she was in her thirties—too young to be our Nancy Jimenez. Nobody picked up the phone for the second listing so Greg wrote that number down and figured we’d try again later in the afternoon.
Then there was the third phone call. The bellman talked to a young woman who answered the phone. She said that, yes, there was a Nancy Jimenez there and, yes, she was in her mid-50s. Did she have a relative in the United States? Yes, said the woman, a cousin who lived in California. When Greg heard this he was ecstatic. He told the bellman to ask her if this Nancy Jimenez was a professor.
A professor? repeated the woman. No, I don’t think so, she said, laughing. Was she certain? Listen, said the woman on the other end of the line, I pretty sure Nancy never went to university let alone taught there.
But how could she know for certain? Could we talk to Nancy?
It would be very difficult, said the woman.
Because she is down in the basement where she has been drinking rum since this morning. This is what she does every day. Maybe she is awake and maybe she isn’t, but she won’t be able to talk on the phone. She won’t even be able to get up the stairs.
Well, that was the end of that. Our only hope now was that Diego’s cousin might be the Nancy Jimenez who hadn’t answered the phone. We decided we’d go have lunch and then take a little siesta in the afternoon and when we woke up from our nap, we would see if we couldn’t get ahold of the last of our three Nancy Jimenez’s. It was our only hope.