One year ago, in march 2009, I was in Cuba.
Ten days, three friends (me, Dax and Gianni), an island, a rented car.
My 900 photos, which for you ain’t nothing, but for me they’re a** treasure of recalls**.
It’s a pity, after one year, not to remember people’s names, places names, and a lot of other things. I wish I could meet Dax again, look at the pictures, and remember all the things together.
Cuba, a place that when you’re there, you think of the burden to drive all around the island in a few days; you think about the carretera central, supposedly a highway which instead is sometimes little more than a mountain path; the famous Cuban GPS that we used to go around without losing track; the food, which is not great and it’s always the same (langostas (lobsters), tomatoes, eggs, bread, gelatine marmalade, butter, platanos (bananas) and some oranges).
You think that it’s impossible that in Cuba nobody calls them bananas, and that if you say bananas they don’t understand you. You think about crucifixion, and the role of religion and santeria, and the African slaves, and the Cuban History and everything else. The Cuban art, so rich and specific. The ocean, which is crystal clear and beautiful only in certain places. And cigars. And Hemingway. And the Hotel Nacional which Al Capone used to visit in the roaring 30’s.
You think about an entire pueblo, oppressed by a regime for fifty years, but also a regime that was embagoed by the US for most part of these years. The fall of the Russian empire and the following Periodo Especial, when Cuban lost most of their economic privileges and never gained them back again.
And then, everyone has his opinion on Cuba: on Che Guevara, on Castro, pro-USA or anti-USA, everyone talks about it even if very few know enough details. And during these days I discovered, reading and watching, lots of things that you can learn only if you are in Cuba, only if you live it, even if for a short period of time.
I think about the Buena Vista Social Club, a documentary on the music of the Club by the same name (which in Cuba, you read “Club” with a “u”, the same way you pronounce “good”), which I wathed before going to Cuba, and let me dream a lot about it.
I think about the camahan (not sure how to write it, since it’s a local dialect from Las Tunas), the European/American/Canadian tourists that visit Cuba for 1-2 months a year, and when in Cuba they have an official girlfriend, which for the other ten months has her own life and her own real boyfriend; and this real boyfriend doesn’t complain about it, because with the rich guy’s money the can both live well throughout the year. And you think of how it would be absurd to do something like this, say, in Italy… And how it is natural there in Cuba. Misery changes people, and their way of thinking.
And Dax’s tomatoes, a story apart, that one. And their transportation things.
I think that a holiday in Cuba is not exactly a holiday, but an voyage inside yourself. Something that marks you and changes you, and teaches you.
Avana, Santa Clara, Trinidad, Las Tunas, Santiago, The Bahía de Cochinos, Varadero… Ah, so many memories!
When I think about Cuba, I feel both nostalgia and bitterness: bitterness, because I didn’t use that chance to write about it, in the moment when memories and names and places and things were so vivid. Nostalgia, because it’s an uncomfortable place to live, and yet you know that sooner of later you want to be back there.
I think about Cuba, and I say to myself: one day I’ll be back, with a special person, for a month, and I’ll go around everywhere, and will discover more and more of it. Can’t wait.