I have nine precious days left here in Cuba. On the 1st of February I leave and I will have been here for two incredible months. Time is my treasure. I'm scared of going back. Last night I didn't sleep well because the reality of having to leave was preoccupying me. I tossed and turned and tried to meditate.
I'm two people, Australian George and Cuban George. Like Jekyll and Hyde. Cuban George is taking over. It's always been there but just had to be nurtured. It could never have been nurtured in Australia. And when both my parents died, any lifeline that I had, was gone.
I've been getting waves of profound emotion sweeping through me as I ruminate over the times, experiences, people and music that have changed me forever. At times, these waves overwhelm my very heart. I actually feel a beautiful pain in my heart. It swells like an in coming tide, like when you're just about to cry it all out. And then, my eyes fill with bittersweet tears that trickle down my cheeks and relieve me. But it's a pain that without, life has no meaning.
Not a second goes by where for me, here in Cuba, I'm not in a state of wanderlust. Even a blind or deaf man would be the same here. If he was blind he would still be captured by the sounds of life in the streets and of course by the music which never really stops. If he was deaf, he would still be able to feel the beat and syncopated rhythms that pulse night and day, and he would still be able to see the rainbows of life here.
Where else in the world can you walk down any street, and in passing, happen upon a little old lady that at home has decided to make candied, donut balls of coconut, place them in a wicker basket go out onto the streets and sell them to people, to make some extra cash ? This happened to me yesterday as I left my house at about 7p.m. I'd never seen her before. She just appeared. She was selling them for 1 cent each. I should've left a tip. Where else can you buy a packet of cigarettes for 70 cents and the most expensive cigarettes are only $1.70 ? Or a loaf of fresh, warm bread for 30 cents ? Where else can you buy most fruit and vegetables from vendors on any street? Where else can you find a guy who has a hole in the wall Tienda ( shop ) where he sells dvds and cds for $1 cuc. You can ask him for what you want, anything, and he says " No problem, of course " , then sources it for you and has it by the next day ? You develop relationships with these people. It s not like going to IGA or Woolworths.
They have taxis here and they're expensive for Cubans and tourists alike. But where the real fun lies, is in catching one of the millions of carro particulars ( communal old cars ) that trawl the colonial streets for passengers. The driver is allowed to take up to 5 people. Two with him in the front, three in the back. Each pays 1 cuc, ( 1 dollar ). The beauty in travelling in one of these is that you're not alone and that you ( I ) can always strike up some kind of conversation, about hell knows what with someone else in the car. Yesterday I met a beautiful old Cuban English teacher who now lives in Miami and is here visiting her family. We talked about how Cuba used to be before El Jefe, ( The Chief ).
Because I've been so busy playing and recording here I've only been to the beach at Billa Los Pinos, (my favourite beach so far), five times. It's one of the eastern beaches in L'habana just before the very popular and extremely crowded TROPICOCO beach. You can catch a modern bus from Central Parque for a return trip that costs 5 Cuc. the Bus comes and goes every 30 minutes.
It's quiet at Los Pinos and I can hire a white, plastic, lazy chair under a wood and palm umbrella, go for a 3 kilometre swim in the turquoise sea which, thank god, has been as flat as a pancake and leave all my belongings on the beach, without any fear of it being stolen. The people who run the restaurant, bar and all the equipment know me now. Julito and Juan Carlos bring me food and drinks. Yummi and Kinni massage people on the beach. Duran sells coconuts and likes to tell me his problems. Yesterday, I said, " lets talk about good things Duran, because you're problems are not my problems and we all have problems."
He said, " True Georgito ! " and laughed. Then we talked about his new guitar.
Yesterday Kinni and Yummi listened to my finished and mixed tracks through earphones on my iPhone. Kinni is also a musician. I told him that Music is also a form of massage for the soul. He agreed. He has his own band and is a Rumbero and Singer. He said that when I return to Cuba, he wants to work with me. So the beach is also a place for Negocios ( business ). As he was listening to my songs through earphones he was singing along, impervious to the fact that he was singing very loudly. It was comical. It was hilarious.
After swimming to the furthest point eastwards, I like to walk back along the beach and collect colourful pieces of weathered glass that sprinkle the white sands. When I get back to Australia I'll make a mosaic. The Cuban Mosaic. Or maybe a lamp that will colour my lounge room.
A big tempest hit Havana yesterday afternoon. I left Los Pinos at 4p.m because I could see the black clouds forming on the horizon and heading our way. I caught the Trans Tour bus, full of tourists, back to Parque Central. It was cold last night and the downer came in handy.
It's now 8.52 a.m and the skies are blue. Looks like I might hit the beach later today. For now my work here is basically done, so I can treat myself to some guilty pleasures without any guilt. Which reminds me; The other day I walked down to the markets at the end of Obispo where people sell old stuff. One guy sells old photos and cinema memorabilia. One poster that caught my eye, which I will probably buy for about 5 cuc, is for a 1940s Americqn film, starring Richard Baseheart called, wait for it................." DEDO DE CULPA" ( FINGER OF GUILT ). Funny! I also found two old posters from the 50s for a Cuban film called " La Isla de las Mujeres Desnudas." ( The Island of Nude Woman ).
I've just listened to a song by Louis Enrique, released in 2009 called "SOMBRAS NADA MAS" ( No More than Shadows ) and I think it's the most beautiful song Ive ever heard. See? In Australia we're not exposed to this stuff. I've got a lot of catching up to do.
Yep, I'm in love with Cuba and I'm scared of of going back to Australia.
Maybe you can try and put yourself in my shoes and understand why.
outside my front door.....yay, bananas.
I used to sell papers in Bindi Juction when I was a kid.