All the men in Cuba are called Jesus. Most...some of the men in Cuba are called Jesus. The Jesuses can be identified by profession, like Jones the Steam and Dai Station, or they're called by their surnames. My physio was called Jesus Maria. Really. His middle name was Josef. Not really. This is Jesus the Taxi, from OK Cab; a friendly, helpful chap who ripped us right off:


Anyway, this is just a brief look at some of the people there, patients, physios and whoever. The third Jesus was this kid who stayed in the same house as us. He was 15 but looked about 10, and had both cognitive and physical problems, caused by a medical condition rather than an injury. His treatment was in its early stages and mainly involved stretching and bending to increase his range of movement. Sometimes he screamed, sometimes he laughed and there were no obvious triggers. He was there with his mum, a lovely woman with the patience of a saint and the stature of R2D2.

I'm not going to give you a rundown of the entire cast. In terms of general ability, I'd say I was in the upper half, while young Jesus was knocking around the bottom. However, brain and spine conditions have such a range of effects that it's impossible to impose a simple linear scale on them. With cognitive problems in the mix as well, every case is unique. Bini, another patient in our house, had similar motor control to mine, except that where my speech, eating and drinking are compromised, his were unaffected; but he was completely blind. Paulo was a quiet guy in his early 20s, who's (whose ? Help) level of awareness fluctuated. Sometimes he became gently talkative and smiley; sometimes he looked furious and sickened as he awoke into a nightmare. I get that every morning, and I don't recommend it.

The house nurses were a good bunch who did shifts of ridiculous lengths; one was called Mercedes and I had to explain to Thea that it was a girl's name before it was a car. (Fun Fact: Karl Benz's niece was called Mercedes Jellinek, and he named his fledgling horseless carriage company after her.) They had traditional nursie uniforms, including the little origami hat and white shoes. They were very excited about having Englishes in the house and always had a battered old phrasebook to hand. We tried to reciprocate but we were really quite mierda.

Here's Paris, a typical Havana character:

And Daffyd:

A quick big up to the chaps from Barbados in the house across the road. I was never sure if the guy's name was Pa or Ba or what, but he was a rangy fella in his 50s who was there looking after his uncle Duncan. They were both former cricketers who grew up in Britain; Duncan mainly shuffled between house and gym but Ba was always out and about and up for a chat. If he found us sitting in front of the house we were always ready for a good half-hour natter, but I have to say, he was great company and it was a fine way to pass the time. Once he took us on a circuit of the neighbourhood, showing us a little bakery and a fruit stand, where he explained the two different pesos (more later) and we bought a bunch of delicious little bananas and an enormous papaya for about 40p. He even had teabags, and gave us some, agreeing that Cuban cups are too small. "When I have a hot beverage, I'm a mug man," he stated.