There’s a man. He’s sitting on the drooping stoop of a house. The walls of the house are decorated with patches of paint that have weathered off. The house is blue, but it is also not blue. It is yellow from the sun, it is white from the rain, and it is dirty from the Earth and from the cars. One color flows from the next, then stops abruptly, and is interrupted altogether by a black window. The man leans idly on this decayed decadence. His skin, dark but bright from the sun’s presence, is embroidered with the lines of age, crinkling as he moves. His face, engulfed with the remnants of his past, show two clear brown eyes. His teeth hold a cigar lazily while his breath still smell’s of last night’s rum. A cubano lightly wrapped in a napkin sits on his lap, and a cup of guava juice in his free hand. His perturbing belly rests on his thighs, covered in a sea of white hair. He has a faded tan cap perched on his head. He sits and watches and pulls at his cigar.
There’s a woman. She has black tights on because she is going dancing on La Melacón. Her dress is red, it ends right above her knees. It caresses her curves just as it did her mother’s twenty years ago and her grandmother’s forty years ago. As she dances, her heels click on the uneven ground, and her hips make a pattern in the air. Her dance is a bolero of seduction, it flairs up and into people’s hearts, yet it aims to seduce no one and everyone. Such is her power, and such is her beauty. Her bolero is free, she is free, as she twirls and dances the dances of her mother and her grandmother.
I stood on the painting of a floor, a mosaic made of turquoise grids speckled with white paint, dirty yet majestic to time’s toll.
Around me the walls were crumbling, chipping away at bits of history that had been unconsciously preserved. The faint buzzing of an air conditioner hummed through the air, the nearby honking of a rusty horn, and the crunch of heavy tires on the uneven roads was heard. I stood at the door and looked at the man drawing at his cigar, the woman walking in her red dress, at the man refinishing his car with a thick glossy coat of new blue paint, and of the woman selling rice and beans from her cart to workers passing by.
Underneath the grayness of the dirt, I saw colors–millions of them. Thousands of shades of pink, and blue, and green, and yellow. And beyond the buzzing air conditioning, I heard sounds of street bands, the guitar, the bongo, the bass, the trumpet, and the sound of a woman singing in Spanish the songs of forgotten loves.
And while everything moved in a placid manner, there was a liveliness stirring, one felt by everyone. A life full of levity, of motion, of sound, and color racing through the veins of the streets.
Cuba is old. It has stood motionless in the face of time, while the rest of the world has progressed. Its cars are archaic, its buildings are crumbling, and its technology is backward. Yet Cuba has barricaded westernization–possibly one of the single countries in this world that have managed to do that. It has refused to concede to the conformity of today’s day and age–and that is what makes it so beautiful.
It has preserved its culture, its life, in the most natural way.
Its barricades have now opened, and westernization will flood in–for in the past weeks, iPhones have been popping up in excited hands. So, take the chance while its there–time travel back to a century of simplicity–and of endless color.
Direct flights are available from Miami
Hotels are scarce in Cuba, yet little rustic gems are found throughout the Cuba.
Hostal Chez Nous is a casa particular in Havana, with several rooms and colonial-style decor.
Hotel Florida is a bigger hotel in Havana decorated with vintage furniture, small but spacious rooms, and sounds of songbirds scattered throughout the hotel.
The best bed and breakfasts include La Rosa de Ortega and Casa de Miriam y Sinai.
For a group endeavor into Cuba, check out Yoga for Bad People excursions within the island.