Jun 28, 2011

Warm Nights in Strange Cities: Cuba 2011

I am barefoot, drunk on Cuban rum and Tukola. The sand is fine and forgiving beneath my feet, cool in the warm night air. Lights and music pulse behind me from the discotheque, where sunburnt tourists in Hawaiian shirts and khaki shorts dance tragically, heroically, to the tribal danceclub beat. In front of me, the Atlantic Ocean is dark. There is no wind tonight, no stars, just the sand and the sound of waves slipping across sand and being sucked back into the sea.

We are drunk, all of us, on cuba libres. (Free Cuba, I'll think later.)

The waves slip and suck in the darkness as we strip, leaving our clothes together in a pile on the sand so that we can find them later. I leave my bra and panties on, unwilling, even in the darkness, to share so much with these friends, these strangers.

We run across the sand, naked, laughing, to the water, and the waves welcome us home.        


Rows of diesel-stained concrete and candy-coloured houses. Dark-skinned women with long legs and short skirts stand tirelessly in high heels by the side of the road, waiting. Old men stand in doorways and dogs roam the streets, alone or in small packs. With my platinum hair and pale skin, I am an exotic creature. Or a freakish aberration. Despite the glances, I am unafraid here.

The city crumbles. Old Fords and Chevrolets cough acrid black smoke. The image of Che Guevara is everywhere. A hero, a madman. Castro is crazy, our driver tells us. Is there talk of another revolution? we ask, and he nods. Yes.

Por favor, we say. Gracias. And always the answer: de nada. It's nothing.

We give the resort guard the beer from our fridge. Hola, we say. Cerveza? And he takes it with a smile. Gracias amigo, he says, popping the tab, and we reply, de nada. It's nothing.