Monday, December 12, 2011

For a Good Time Call C.U.B.A.

My Aussie friend Conchita was able to visit a land without McDonalds or Starbucks, with nary a laptop or cell phone in sight. In its place, a world of 1950's Chevys and Buicks and ElDorado's with massive silver hood ornaments, who with each scrape or scuffle, much like its resilient owners, is sanded down, rebuffed, replastered, repainted and put right back out on the road to carry on.

She says everyone has their price. Because the government owns everything from the bus lines to the hotels and they pay only $20 a month so you better be clever, hopefully clever and sexy, to survive.

She recommends you hit up Cuba Junky site for information on how to stay with the locals in a casa particular. Apparently they call it that because you do get hooked on Cuba and will no doubt return.
She says Castro must be jealous that history always favors the more attractive ones who die young.
Che Guevara... on her handbag.

At night, the party people gather along an outdoor stretch of waterfront they call the Malecon. Here locals meet up to dance and sing, play trumpets, pick pockets, chat and drink and smoke and flirt.

When Conchita gets hungry late one night after too many rums at the Malecon, new friends walk her to a gas station, but there is no food - just spare auto parts, 1950s parts, of course, and motor oil. But the locals go into the back and later emerge with TuKola sodas and sandwiches. The midnight attendants sell homemade lunches in secret, to pad their income.
I'm told the only advertising is propaganda. That according to the billboards, everything is done in the name of a "revolution" that you might think is happening today. But it happened in 1959. And you must not speak poorly of the revolution or its despots, because there are informants and you will go to jail.
"all our action is a cry of war against imperialism"
A wonderful bounty of food, is always artfully served.

In a country village called Vinales, there are caves with rivers and stalagtites.
Where they smoke these kind of cigarettes.
But no matter how popular the locals are, tourists like Conchita will always be more popular. And they will pay for everyone the meet, wherever they may go (nightclubbing?), and while off-putting at first, this comes to feel natural because if you can afford a plane ticket, you are extraordinarily wealthy.

One day, on a perfect white sand beach, she was speaking with a young local man who had big dreams. As they spoke, she looked around at the sun and white sand and palm trees in the breeze, and she said, "You live in paradise". He smiled and asked her what was paradise if it came with a cage?
Through the remainder of her balmy nights in Havana, swaying to rum and soaking up salsa, Conchita wondered about the meaning of paradise.


Dtown~Blog said...

Beautiful, and somewhat hypnotic. Never really put much thought into visiting cuba but stories like this intrigue me.

Adam Thomas said...

Nice blog and beautiful collection of pictures !

Holidays to Cuba