No trip to Old Havana is complete without spending a few minutes with my old buddy, Roberto Gonzalez. The colorful, fun-loving chap can usually be found in touristy areas with his, wildly-animated sidekick, “Pillo Chocolate.” I first met Roberto at an “Industriales” baseball game back in 2002 or so. That night, the canine was sporting faux headphones as if he was calling the game, howling on cue, to the delight of the audience.
These days, Pillo and Roberto, along with another dachshund whose name escapes me, work the cathedral square downtown, and while there are two pooches, it’s “Pillo” who consistently steals the show.
Without going into unnecessary and obvious detail, the little “salchicha,” (Spanish for sausage,) will, on hearing a certain presidential candidate’s name, immediately snarls ferociously. Over the past 15 years, the names have changed, the reaction has not.
That’s always fun, but it really gets good when my unsuspecting friends get involved. Roberto will ask “Would you like to hold Senor Pillo?” Most do, and most regret it, if only for a moment. Once the little wiener dog is snugly in their arms, there is suddenly a flow of liquid running down their arms and/or legs. “Oh my God!” “Ewwww!” Right about then, Roberto displays a water bottle and the show is over.
The cool part about all of this is that the group I am leading this week in Cuba can’t possibly see all of this in time to avoid it.
Oye, Roberto, here we come!