Callejon de Hamel [Hamel’s little street] is a pedestrian street in the Cayo Hueso section of Centro Habana neighborhood. This street serves as a living art project and a homage to the area and the island’s African roots. The visual art in the street and on the surrounding building walls is just as impressive as the Rumba performances that take center stage every Sunday from 12-3pm. Continue reading Callejon de Hamel: AfroCuban art project→
There’s a subtle magic in traveling rural highways under the black of night. I’ve always thought this, but in Cuba the thought sneaks into my mind almost without fail and has the power to subdue me for hours. I’m not sure what it is, but there’s some aspect in the night time journeys through this country that awakens part of my soul that usually lies dormant. Continue reading Thoughts on the road to Cienfuegos→
Viñales is a small town, national park, and valley in the Pinar del Rio province of Cuba. Last weekend a few of us stayed their for a night and took a loooong horse ride through parts of the park surrounding the town.
[Except for the last section, what follows is more or less what I originally wrote down during our trip to the eastern city of Baracoa.]
Speeding down a narrow two-lane highway, expansive fields and not-so-distant mountains roll by the bus window slowly. The hoards of farm animals, numerous guajiros on horseback, and roughly-paved winding mountain road confirm the obvious: we have left the Cuba of Habana for a more distinct and ‘natural’ country. The rocky slopes bathed with tropical greenery, reach upwards toward the sky, whose usual monochrome blue has been replaced by a sea-green canvas, showered with peach rays and sprinkled with rolling clouds that seem impossible to believe. As magical as the sight of this land proved from the air, the ground view adds a sense of enormity and connection that a plane’s isolation could never match.Continue reading Pa’l Oriente pt. 2: Baracoa, where Columbus landed→
“Cuando se acabó el racismo en Cuba [whem racism ended in Cuba]…”
This is the way a former Cuban basketball player began a sentence when I asked him about race and sports in modern Cuba. Yes, officially racism in Cuba ended in 1959, with the ‘eradication’ all legal forms of discrimination, thus racism no longer exists in this socialist utopia. Ha. Everybody on this island knows that that idea is nothing but an inane fantasy. Racism is a reality that black people in Cuba, including myself, face every time we are stopped by the police, interrogated by hotel staff, or stared at when walking with foreigners. Continue reading Racismo? There is no racism in the Americas→
Down the dusty highway toward aeropuerto José Marti, the afueras of Ciudad de la Habana raced past us so quickly that I scarcely saw any people, just the hot morning sun reflecting off a sea of tin roofs. After being delayed by someone who forgot that a passport is needed in order to fly, we arrived at the small orange and blue domestic terminal of the airport. Waiting in the terminal for our forgetful companion, I was slightly nervous about getting checked in to the flight on time, and slightly more concerned about putting my faith in a Cuban airplane. Continue reading Pa’l Oriente pt.1: Trouble from the start→