Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thoughts from Cuba - Summer 2003

I’ve been asked to write an article on the project I went on in Cuba, but I have a problem: my experiences were so varied, so conflicting and so far from anything I know at home that I don’t know quite what to say. I’m sure you’ll agree that one of the most vital things to put in your rucksack is a journal, and luckily I took mine to Cuba, so I thought a few extracts might give you a taste of a country you can only really appreciate by visiting yourself.

Norman stopped to get his hair cut and while we waited the second barber played the guitar for us’

‘Today at 7am the ‘rush hour’ consisted of about four cars… lots of people cycle around Matanzas and it’s normal to see two or even three people on the same bike’

‘We are desperately trying to explain why we can’t eat all the food they give us. Meat three times a day is really generous in Cuba, so we feel rude leaving it, but in the heat, especially at lunchtime, it’s just too much.’

‘The sand is soft and white and the sea is incredible. It starts off really clear, turns turquoise and then right out in the distance it’s a bright sparkly blue’

‘I’ve finally found something about Cuba that I love and that I will miss – everyone can dance, and the men more so than the women’

‘There is a ‘problem’ with the water – in that there is none and won’t be for two days’

‘We went to Cueva La Saturno. There is a freshwater lagoon inside a cave where you can swim and jump off the stalagmites. It looked and felt like something out of a Disney film – not real at all, but amazing.’

‘The creepy crawlies seem to have come out now that the weather is slightly cooler. We are used to having little lizards in the bedroom and have also learnt that spraying insect repellent on ants kills them!’

‘We sat and drank freshly made Pina Coladas, listened to some decent Cuban music and looked out at the palm trees. It was really relaxing and just how I imagined Cuba to be.’

‘After two weeks of it coming ‘manana’, the paint arrived today. Everything here happens in ‘Cuban’ time, which means late, if at all. It’s a good lesson in patience, but soooo frustrating at times.’

‘The main achievement of the day was having ice cream for lunch at Coppelia, and paying in pesos, which came to about seven pence’

‘Having a rucksack AND being female is annoying. Cuban men hiss to attract your attention, which is very irritating, especially when it happens about twenty times an hour’

I could go on for pages, not because my journal is a literary masterpiece, but because Cuba is a fascinating country and I have so many stories to tell to anyone who’ll listen. Certain things infuriated me (the entire political environment) and certain things I loved (Guava milkshake) but while I could never live in Cuba, I don’t think I’ll ever see anywhere like it again.

Natalie Aldham


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful experience with us. I do wonder though, why do you think you could not live there?

Anonymous said...

It is useful to try everything in practice anyway and I like that here it's always possible to find something new. :)