I looked into the mirror and saw a young man

Yesterday I stumbled onto an article about a Dutchman who lost a bid to change his age. Emile Ratelband, who is 69, was told by a court that while he is free to act as young as he pleases, he cannot fiddle with his birth certificate.

In not so distant times, this would have been one of those oddball stories published for comic relief in between tales of global woe. Or a cheap thrill Daily Mail style: remember the man who married his goat? Or the woman who wed herself and then committed adultery? …


With the promise of radically extended lives within reach, I decided to take a gander into the land of rejuvenation attempts past. Disclaimer: in no way am I suggesting that the credibility of current versus past beliefs should be debated. I just find this reminder of how people have been chasing after youth and away from death since the dawn of history a fascinating insight into our survival instinct.

Even more charming, if in a slightly sinister way, is our ancestors’ inclination for turning preoccupations with sexual performance into the pivot of their efforts. …


(Last Updated On: October 31, 2019)

I saw it the second I turned the corner. There was a queue by the kiosk at the top of the Boulevard — a long one — which could only mean one thing: they had beer. Before I even realised, my step was catching speed as it tried to keep up with the half dozen people who had started to trot in the same direction.

A guy on a bike yelled something as he swerved to avoid me. Close shave. I shuddered a little then went back to my calculations: I had one 10…


There is a lot of confusion about the nature of this mysterious figure known as jinetera. And even more misunderstood is the jinetera’s counterpart, the ubiquitous yet elusive jinetero.

But what do these words actually mean?

Jineteros and jineteras

Nothing, outside of Cuba. The word jinetero is a corruption of jinete, which in Spanish means jockey. However, when the jinete jinetea he rides horses, but when the jinetero jinetea he hustles. In fact, in Cuba jinetear, the verb, means specifically “to conduct illicit business with foreigners, including prostitution.”


I am regularly asked by total strangers to explain my reproductive status, and since I am unashamedly childfree, my answer is punctually met with the dismay of someone who has just learnt that their neighbour is a pedophile.

This disapproval only reinforces my convictions (I am defiant by design), but sometimes a sense of violation lingers on. I am childfree and I am happy. Ok? Wrap your head around it and stop asking silly questions.

It can get hard though, especially for those who don’t like confrontation, are eager to please, or are surrounded by too many bigots — or…


I keep hearing the same misconceptions over and over. Cubans are not allowed to leave the country. People earn 20 dollars a month. You can buy a house in Havana now. True or false? Well, in some cases both. Here are the top 7 myths people believe about Cuba.

1. Cubans aren’t allowed to leave Cuba

This used to be true. It was only in 2013 that the government allowed its citizens to travel without having to apply for a formal permit. Until then, some people were forbidden from leaving the island unaccompanied, lest they decided that overseas pastures were green enough to keep pasturing on.

The…


Attribution: Stuart Heath

I found myself reflecting on my childfree-ness recently, after discovering that a dear old boyfriend of mine is going to become a father. This is the one who got away — and that’s a good thing.

Apart from whatever the situational reasons for the relationship’s failure, there was the unspoken question of children. I knew that he wanted a family, but because we were young and barely able to support ourselves, the issue never turned into a pressing one. We could not have become parents at any point before we broke up, unless I had agreed to return to my…


I used to marvel at blogs that offer tips for packing, which I thought to be cheap tricks to get traffic from idiots. Wouldn’t I check southern Brazil’s climate before booking my Rio holiday? Doesn’t it go without saying that visiting Helsinki in January requires boots? I am amused at how clueless people can be.

Ding dong, you may be choking on your sweat here, but it’s winter in Cape Town. Yes, that’s why you airfare was dirt cheap!


Attribution: Utkarshraj Atmaram CC BY-SA 2.0 and Upsilon Andromedae CC BY-SA 2.0

This is a story I heard from a friend who travelled around Latin America for a few months. While the minutia are extrapolated, what happened to our hero is as narrated.

Daniel, that’s his name, had always been fascinated with pre-Columbian cultures and Cuba’s revolutionary history. One day he counted the coins in his piggy bank, put his flat on gumtree, and bought a plane ticket. Latin America here I come.

His passion for Spanish translated into a fervid enthusiasm for learning local slangs, and having spent the first chunk of his trip in Cuba, Cuban was the one that…


I toyed with the idea of writing this article over a decade ago, but I eventually decided it would be of great length and little use. When I first came to Cuba in the early 2000s, just finding decent food or going from point A to point B was such a mission that is seemed easier to suggest that people buy a package holiday. …

Barbara Torresi

Social Scientist / with permanent itchy feet www.barbaratorresi.com

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