The colors on this rock are vibrant and decaying. The salt air and the wind, combined with years of neglect out of a lack of resources have made for a strangely beautiful and surreal urban landscape here. The music gets into me; even without my attention it moves me magically and with ease.
Sitting here at one of Hemmingway’s favorite spots and home of part of the story “Old Man and the Sea,” happened, I am irresistibly rocking on my stool to a little trio covering songs made famous by the Buena Vista Social Club, while a German tourist next to me buys cigars at ridiculously overpriced tourist rates. I can’t help but smile at the beautiful weirdness Cuba is. Across the street at the local Cuban Restaurant I can buy a decent pizza for less than $1 US. Here I’m paying twice that for a few eggs and some veggies. I can’t buy an omelet across the street and can’t bear eating another pizza.
I’ve seen some beautiful places on this earth and loved a lot of people around the world. Cuba though, has my heart. Far from an ideal place to live in some ways, there is something in the quality of the energy here that is just so raw and primal, so sensual, so sexual, so alive and hungry for life that it sings to a place in my soul that has never before been touched.
It’s not easy to get things. Someday I pray I can drink enough water, as it seems the stores are always running out and at least half the time I feel dehydrated here. The people, by some standards are poor, but no one is starving or without a place to live. Most people are plump enough to look like they’d last a while on excess and obesity isn’t an unfamiliar site here.
What the people are lacking in money and resources is balanced by what they have in family, community and friendships. At night the streets are lit up and every porch hosts groups of people talking and sitting in their government distributed rockers chatting about the life they’re living. Passers by shout out at their friends as they go by, “Que Bola, que bola?” It has now become my custom as I walk by my friend’s homes to shout out, “Oye..Shmael…oye Jesus.” In less than one month I feel local, and in fact the first night here I felt more at home than I have anywhere in years.
More and more as I travel the world I recognized that I am no longer a resident of one small town in the US. I am perhaps a rare being in that I can find home anywhere I go. I think the main reason is that I am home in my own skin. I spend a lot of time alone and I don’t mind it. I’m not someone who needs to constantly be with someone or “in a scene” to maintain my identity. I am and always have been myself wherever I go and somehow that allows me access to a bigger world.
Being in one place 365 days a year all the time is like a kind of purgatory for me. It’s worse than death. Death at least allows the possibility of a new start and rebirth. Always and forever in one place, now, especially as fast as the world is changing, feels like a waste of my life. To get to see and experience the few remaining intact cultures on earth, there is no time to waste. I’m at the beginning of a new life and ready to create a life of adventure and sensual exploration. As the winds blow, so shall I go.
I’m a simple woman really, but not so easily coerced into domesticity. The culture I was born into is not the truth of my heart and soul. I am called to explore all of myself in this life, with our without the companionship of a man.
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