Tag Archives: Malecon

Where Are All the Women?

Going out at night in Cuba, we were surrounded by men of all ages, a smattering of foreign women (Cuban men in hand!) and really no one else.  Where all the Cuban ladies at?

Some of my friends pointed out that part of why Cuban guys were so forward with us was that our very presence in night life was saying A LOT more than we thought it was.  One of our first nights, we saw one girl out.  She was in Chucks, cut-off shorts and a tank top, but she ruled that place.  She shook her booty like booties have never shaken before or since, except when attached to her.

Along the malecón, you can see couples canoodling everywhere.  They are attached at the hip to their guys, and from what I hear, they spend a great deal of money on their men.  Clothing, absurd silver/gold tooth coverings, and of course food.  What the what?

Is that the only place for young Cuban women in nightlife?  Booty shakers and girlfriends?  Oh Madonna and the Whore, the Two Marys, how I tire of thee and thine eternal truth.

Have people experienced this in other Latin American countries?  Where on earth were all the young women?  Maybe they just knew better and were staying away from all the men, unless they found one worthy of their attention?  Who knows–but it definitely made us gringas stick out even more than we already did.

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

…except not really on the fish, since that was pretty disgusting.

Cuba wakes up early and slow, and some mornings so do I.

I went for a walk around our little neighborhood to say goodbye early on Friday, and realized how pretty Cuba is in the morning light. Everyone knows Cuba for the blistering, gorgeous midday sun on the beaches, or the nightlife.  I wonder how many people know Cuba for the bright stars you can see so clearly, even in Havana.  But early morning?  Not many people see that side of Cuba.

This morning was strange and quiet.  No party, no music.  No street musicians, no peanut lady yelling, “Mani! Mani!”

I take the long way around the fountain, but the niños aren’t there; they’re in school.  Alex isn’t around either–he’s probably getting Diyani ready for school, or headed out to work.  I head towards the Residencia, walking down the Malecón.  I’m going to miss this place, with its slow pace and full personality.  I look up at that long view of our edificio and the walk to Habana Vieja, and I become vaguely aware that I’m separating from the Americans soon, too.  I know I’ll be back here someday, but without them it won’t be the–

BAM

In my reflective reverie, fell flat on my face in some algae and ocean slime. As I struggled to get up, I slid and fell again, sprawled out on hands and knees.

I laugh at myself, amazed I’m alone in that act.

You just couldn’t let me off easy, could you Havana?

‘ta luego, Cuba.

Streetcorner Salsa

Every night after dinner the Malecón and its adjacent parqueos come alive with street performers.  Conga, guitares, bongos, maracas y guerras can be heard from a few streets away, so the crowds gather.

The scene of the crime.

Everyone sings because the entire country knows the same songs.  If you don’t know it you quickly learn the beat, one that American music would never think to use.

Cubans are always dancing, I think they’re born dancing, and if you don’t know how there are always a dozen or so cubanos ready to teach you. Coming home from a club during our first week, a new friend offered to teach me, rather than bearing the sight of my flailing.  He was a good and patient teacher, unlike a lot of the other guys here, and not at all presumptuous about how I would repay him for the lesson.

So we started with the beat and the basic step, standing next to each other.  He would add in a new step every so often, and wait until I had recovered sufficiently to augment it encore.  Eventually, he was confident enough in my ability to not trip us both to start dancing facing each other, and by the end of the night there was even some turning and hand-fanciness involved.

And that’s how, at 3 am en a plaza on the Malecón in Havana, I learned to salsa.

The Ocean Will Cure What Ails You

All my life, I’ve always loved the ocean.  As a kid it was basically impossible

locals ignore this, but after seeing those waves crash against the rocks and coral I wouldn't try it.

to get me out of the water, and some of my best memories are from

East Beach in Westport and Eastham down the Cape.

Today we split a van taxi (seats twelve) and headed out for an afternoon atthe beach.  Those of you who have seen the pictures of la residencia (and its proximity to the Atlantic, which is less than 100 feet) may be curious why a 15 minute cab ride was necessary.  Unfortunately,the Malecón is unsafe to swim off of.  Locals do it, but the risk of injury or infection from the rocks and coral just on the other side of the wall means I won’t be swimming there, no matter how hot it gets.

After a long week, a day with the ocean was just what i needed.  The salt water releases the sinuses, cleans the nails and clears up the

A beautiful beach, free and public like all the others in Cuba

skin.  The beach is the perfect place to be

solitary, walking around thinking, observing and collecting.

The ocean is one of my all-time favorite thinking spots, and I feel emotionally connected to it.  One of the last goodbyes before college was to Westport, and it wasn’t just because Gram and Cope were there.  In Egypt, trips to the Red and Med Seas came at just the right time in the chaos to revitalize us all.  It’s like wiping the data clean, turning back the clocks and shaking the etch-a-sketch.

Whether it’s a cold, some sore limbs or a cluttered mind, the ocean always brings some peace, even when it’s whipped up in a right fury.

I Wish You Enough

 

¡Estoy Aqui!

The view from my room's balcony. Not the penthouse's balcony, my bedroom's balcony. Muahahaha!

I’m ¡finalmente aqui en Cuba! It appears our internet is pretty good, so here are a few pictures from the first 24 hours.  Expect several short posts over the next few days, and some picture-heavy updates.

We had our first day of class today.  We will be taking Spanish every morning from 9:15-11, and then a second class 11:15-1:30.  The Second slot will be filled by four different classes over the course of the 12 weeks, all in Spanish.  First is Cine, or Cuban film, taught by Profe.  We started right in with our first (guest) lecture today.

Yesterday was a cold windy mess.  At night, our ventanas (windows) rattled to all get-out, and we bundled up as much as humanly possible.  Some people went out, but the rest of us were all asleep by 9:30. Luckily, today is already looking sunny with calmer waters.  Someone from Casa told us this is the coldest week they’ve had in ten to fifteen years!

The Malecon from our room's balcony. That ledge the waves are crashing over is about waist-high. Yesterday the waves were even higher!

Breakfast is every morning at 8am, and dinner at 7pm.  Both are homemade and delicious.  I had papaya juice for the first time this morning, and it was pretty good.  The texture was similar to watermelon, but the taste was quite different.

I’ll be posting plenty of analysis and academic exploration throughout my three months here, but for now I’m just settling in and trying to get exposed to the culture first.  You can expect lots of basic info, pictures, and rections without judgement for now, until I get my bearings and learn a bit more first hand.