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Timeless Love

The soft chuckling of hens scratching around in the brush picking at anything they can find to eat is accompanied by the gentle swish of a broom clearing the walkways of leaves and dust and the occasional thud of falling mangos.  Another day is beginning, and having no reason that I have to get up, I linger under the mosquito net stretching my body out and reflecting.

Last night I wandered into town and found a few more of my old friends. I stopped first at the dance school where I had spent so much of my time before CoVid with my beloved dance and musician friends.  Only a few left, most have gone from Trinidad either back to their provinces, or out of the country, but nonetheless, a joyous reunion and huge hugs and love to reconnect to and of course some dances to reconnect in our passion together.  Two years and a few months, and so much has changed for all of us, yet this one thing, the dance and the passion we share, heals it all.  This more than anything has kept us moving through challenges in our own worlds and ways.  The school has very few students, as there are very few tourists coming to Cuba, but still they are there every day 9 am to 9 pm waiting for any opportunity they can to share their passion and love with anyone who might want a class.

After a visit with them, I keep moving and find more friends dancing at La Trova and Palenque.  Very few of the venues are open yet, only Trova, Palenque and Casa de Musica from Thursday to Sunday nights.  Entering Trova was like a step back in time.  The same characters, drinking the same glass of rum, at the same tables, dancing with the same smiles and the same enthusiasm as always.   In the music and dance, all of the suffering and challenges of the past two years is quieted.  The joy of being together again, being reunited in the dance, supersedes all of the misery of the past.   We are once again in the timeless love and space of the rhythm’s embrace.  Most of the musicians were familiar, but a few were not.  Several of the most established and beloved musicians in town died during CoVid, and most of the younger ones have left by any means possible.  A very few tourists, Asian and French were there, but Trova was far from full.  It felt very much like the Cuba I came to in 2012, before the wild surges in tourism that came between 2015-2020.

What makes this time so challenging for many is that for a few years they got a taste of more abundance, more income, and more opportunity.   The openings of the Obama years were definitely the golden years of the recent past.  Sadly, Trump’s changes compounded with CoVid and the economic crisis that all created has taken Cuba back to a time similar to the Special Period,  a time of great hardship and lack.  Add to that the far too long punishment from the USA with the blockade, some very poor decisions in the Cuban government around currency, and the all ready always difficult realities Cubans have been living with for decades, and it’s very easy to understand why so many have fled and want to go by any means possible.

Everything ends early now, and by midnite everything is closing down and we are all heading home.  My dance friends walk me home, arm in arm, laughing and making jokes.  This is part of what I love about being with the artists.  While everyone else would talk only about their problems and the suffering, we artists manage to cope by getting all of that angst out through our expressions, leaving us to enjoy the gift of being together in the present moment, arm in arm, strolling down cobblestone streets laughing like kids.

The rooster crows outside my door and I’m jolted awake to greet the day.  A gentle steady rain has started and it feels a bit like a soul therapy for me today.  I notice that after all the walking and dancing yesterday, I have no pain at all in my body.  A stark contrast to the constant pain I live in in the USA, I feel grateful and content to lie in bed and listen to the rain for another hour.

Here, in Cuba, life is more connected to the elements.  The homes are open to the wind and air, and earth.  There is less separation from nature and more of an ability to embrace the grit of life as it is. That comes with more mosquitos, and more exposure to all kinds of things, some fun, some not so fun.  I have always loved storms for the freshness and vitality they bring, for the energy of the winds and the nurturance it allows me to sink into.

My timeless loves:  Cuba, friendships, nature, a good storm and the comfort to enjoy them all together.

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