I’m going out on a limb and saying Cuba was my best travel experience yet!
OK, wait. Let me back up, “best travel experience yet” is a bit strong. Let me rephrase that and say Cuba was my most “Lived-In” travel experience to date. I don’t feel like I went on vacation. I feel like I lived in Cuba for a few weeks. I feel like I went there to meet some cousins I just found out I had. Of course I was a foreigner, so I was treated differently in many instances, but that’s to be expected. I felt held in a way that allowed me to throw my note cards in the air and just wing it. It felt like freedom to me.
“Cuba~Maude” lived in the moment and felt the myriad of emotions that come with life and living. I smiled and laughed until my jaws hurt for the blessing and the fun of meeting interesting, memorable, free-spirited people who I can now call friends. I cried for how race is always a factor all around the world and for how the effects of colonialism show up in my mind and in some male/female engagements I had. I was conscious of behavior, my own as well as those around me. And through it all I talked my thoughts and feelings out in real time over food and drink with uniquely beautiful women traveling with the group.
The 4am loud serenades from bar-hopping passersbys on my block in Havana was real life, yo. As was the sweet family street festivals in Santiago. I zoned out in dance class, allowing the warrior courage of Ogun and the feminine strength of Osun to uplift my spirit, straighten my spine and raise my confidence level. I battled, unsuccessfully, with my “American Strong Black Woman” ideology, trying my best to relax my body enough to be led by my Salsa partners (turns out that kind of internal release is going to take longer than a few weeks!). We drank Havana Club rum or Cristal cervezas (and sometimes both!) and we ate arroz y frijoles, plátanos fritas, papaya and yucca J. And I got my first glimpse into the world of Cuban Yoruba practices and rituals. I came home feeling full to overflowing.
To Ramon, thank you for being the big homie, making sure we were safe and felt welcomed. To my travel beauties – Carle, Nicky, Julianna, Amiyo and Caitlin – the journey can only be as great as its participants! Thanks for being loving and fun participants. Agua! To the amazing team who guided us around the cities safely, with patience and beauty – Chino, Susana, Tymeek, Máte, Tanya, Ledsley, Edny, Menor, Evelyn, Yilman, Yanko – thank you for simply being beautiful people. Life is so much better with you in it. And to all the people I have no names for, you freaking ROCK!
Thank you Cuba. You lit up my life! I shall return ~ Pronto!