By Laura Vazquez Lopez*
HAVANA TIMES — I still remember the smell of a storm that was constantly lingering in the air, those beads of sweat that ran down my neck because of the humidity, the most beautiful skies I have ever seen and the warmth and friendliness of its people.
Cuba was a good place to travel to; maybe if somebody thinks about Cuba as being Old Havana and Varadero, they won’t understand everything the island has to offer. Every alley, every business, every church and monument was a work of art in itself, intertwined with the brightest colors that you can imagine and the most ruined buildings I’ve ever seen, but maybe that’s where Cuba’s magic lies.
It’s a country firmly rooted in the past and you can see that just by looking around and seeing its cars, traditions, almost nonexistent technology, or in the lack of telecommunication infrastructure, or a lot of other things which, thanks to the type of government they have, have been banned over the years.
However, if I have to pick one thing that stood out the most it is the Cuban people who, although the majority doesn’t agree with living in the situation they find themselves in, have an almost enviable patriotic pride. They are people who even disagreeing with their current situation and wanting to contribute something so that this changes, live happily with the little that they are allowed to have, even when they are forced to work long days for very little money.
It’s been several months now since we came back from that Caribbean paradise which we traveled across for 10 days and I can still remember everything quite clearly. Cities like Trinidad or Remedios, the beautiful colonial architecture, made for photography and tourism, where every place looks like a holiday postcard.
The Cays in the North and West, with the finest, whitest sand I’ve ever seen, where it seems that the sun is only hot but it burns you in excess. Viñales, a treasure located in the interior of the country, with its famous mogotes (hills), its vegetation, its animal-drawn carriages, its immense plantations, I’m pretty sure it’s on my list of favorite places.
And what can I say about Havana… I would be lying if I said that it was how I imagined it would be. I really didn’t imagine that it would be in such a poor state, except for the tourist area. But even so, it’s beautiful; it has a special beauty unrivalled by any other place I know.
In conclusion, now writing from Spain, I can only remember those 10 days as an amazing experience, discovering all of these places, the way the Cuban people live, the smells, colors, life on the island…
* A visitor to Cuba in August 2016.