HAVANA TIMES — Seeking to take advantage of the warm temperature Cuban waters still retain at this time of year, I set out on a pleasant bus journey, heading for Havana’s east-laying beaches. The trip was memorable for several reasons.
A kind tour guide described the services offered by these buses, which take you to the beach, and back, for five Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC). A bus leaves every half hour, from 9 am to 6 pm. The point of departure is Old Havana’s Parque Central.
We arrived at the beautiful beach quickly. There is dune between the road and the shore.
Standing on the sand, there was of course a police officer asking people for their ID, to remind us we are all numbered and under police control, as untrustworthy citizens. They honed in on us, I assume, because of my friend Ariel, an Afro-Cuban who endures both racial discrimination and the taboos surrounding his sexual orientation, on file for an official reprimand issued years ago at some meeting place (for indecent exposure).
Luckily, nature continues to be friendly and granted us a beautiful blue sea, where people of different nationalities mingle and converse as though they were free. There are more foreign tourists than Cubans at beaches this time of year.
An English couple next to us asked us why the police officer asked for our IDs. We offered them a brief explanation and we got ready to dip into the ocean.
Near the shore, a group of Cuban musicians performed for a group of tourists who were having a blast dancing on the sand.
The near-warm water made us want to stay submerged for hours. The children were playing, building sand castles and the occasional sail boat gave the tableau a maritime feel. In the distance, we saw people surfing and paragliding.
As for the food, most of the options were too expensive for the average Cuban, who, aware of the situation, prefers to bring something from home to spend the day there without fainting.
On our way back, a Mexican woman on the bus (who was very eager to find out everyone’s nationality) told of her experiences in each of the countries she’s visited and added she was awestruck with Cuba and its beautiful landscapes. She told us that, in Havana, they’ve practically have had to kick her out where she’s stayed at because she never wants to leave behind the pleasant atmosphere one breathes in the country.