I want to tell you that everything I’ve heard about Cuba was true. The story landscapes, the buildings from the time when Fidel was smoking his cigars in the sumptuous, elegant rooms, with the historical, grand, original look, the joy of people to live, to breathe, despite all of the problems, the small and twisted streets, the vintage cars, shiny and painted in different colors, the smell of strong coffee, all in one make you instantly love it.
I’ve decided in a heartbeat to take my plane ticket to the Caribbean paradise, I was living relatively close, at only one hour and a half. I went alone, but I knew for sure that I would find travel buddies on the way.
From the airport, I’ve arrived by car, to the Airbnb, after I had wandered about half an hour, because the taxi driver had left me a few blocks away, crossing the streets with houses almost identical, all different colors. Children between two to six years old were watching me from behind the doors, together with their mothers, astonished and intrigued, or playing football. I was lucky to find a nice old lady who had helped me find my home.
The house where I was going to stay had high, high walls, similar to the Spanish colonial architecture, it had a floor and a terrace overlooking the city; the terrace was adorned with numerous, white, beautifully decorated chairs, with a large table, a bar and a swing that was waiting to bring some joy to the distant traveler.
On the first day, I’ve decided to walk as much as possible, to visit as much as possible from the enchanted city. I started randomly, slowly, wondering about the beauty around me. I was feeling like I’d landed in the mid-’50s, almost asking myself why the men didn’t wear suits and walking sticks, and the women long dresses, hats and umbrellas to be protected from the sun. There was food all over the place, many Cuban-specific delicacies, a few kiosks with water and refreshments, a few sweets, and about that.
The city was an architectural splendor, the buildings remained silent, admiring the curious passersby, intrigued by their columns, the sumptuous roofs, the beautiful balconies drawn by the demanding architects. What elegant and stylish ladies had they looked at the city at dawn, inhaling slowly from the long, thin cigarettes, sipping from their strong coffee?
After a few hours of walking, I sat on the steps of the Cuban Capitol, a high, imposing institution, located in the center of the city, overlooking numerous shops, bookstores, and other buildings with a melancholic air, crying for the old days, when they were majestic, glittering with beauty. There was an extraordinary atmosphere, the relaxation and the joy of being alive was obvious on people’s faces as they were walking slowly, without haste or stress, while the heat was beginning to decrease in the afternoon. Among the problems they were facing everyday, like all of us, they found the power to be happy.
The sun was slowly gliding towards the painted buildings, as if for many centuries, they had seen many things, but now they could only remain silent. Yes, I was beginning to believe that maybe we were not in 2019 anymore, but in a story.