Live More than a Hundred Lives in Cuba
by Anthony Nash O. De Leon
Life in the metro always runs at a rapid pace. There’s always a huge amount of workload. You’re surrounded by a noisy environment. And you’re always left holding your head or another part of your body because of pain and discomfort. It tires you out and makes you lifeless at the end of the day. It happens for five or six days every week and you’re always busy; preoccupied with all the things you should finish for your work; forgetting what it’s like to feel free and have fun.
However, when you come back home, you are slowly drifting away to a place where you’re free from any kind of pressure, stress, or worry. You envision yourself riding a nice luxury car with the breeze brushing your hair as the sun spread glitters around the azure waters mirroring the bright blue skies.
Yes, you are brought to paradise. You are where you want and need to be. You are in a place where no one can stop you from doing anything you like. You can live your life.
But then again, you’re once again brought to reality, sitting in your couch remembering that they were all just thoughts in your head; that they were not for real. But worry not for a place does exist where you can laugh beyond the four corners of the Earth, dip and bathe under the water and the sun, or marvel at nature’s splendor.
There is a place in the Caribbean where no one or nothing can stop you. It is a destination where you’d want to cross the ocean for because you won’t be withheld by anything. There, you can be anything you like, a wandering tourist, a fluid dancer, an architecture enthusiast, a history buff, or a sports fan. It is in Cuba that you can live to the max. It is in Cuba where you can live more than a hundred lives.
The Crocodile You Can’t Wrestle
You might be an adventure seeker, a thrill seeker, or an adrenaline junkie like Steve Irwin, always in search for a dangerous animal loitering around the jungle to prey on its unaware victims. Yes, Cuba does not only possess glorious beaches, high-rise buildings, historical ruins, breathtaking diving sites, and sunlit meadows. It also has jungles and rainforests as perfect shelters for creatures of the wild. And one of those is the crocodile that dwell on murky and muddy waters to hide itself from any danger and from its prey.
There is, however, one crocodile that lives in the ocean. You can’t see it and it can’t see you. It feeds not on meat but on the mixture of sun, water, wind, and earth. Neither Tarzan nor Steve Irwin would find it or have a chance to wrestle it. Not because it is too powerful but because it is too big. Besides, you might even be stepping on it.
El Cocodrilo’ is the name Cuba is commonly called by its locals. It is a name given due to its shape, which depicts the form of a sneaky crocodile floating on its aquatic territory. Fear not for its name only represents its shape. Fear not for it does not own scaly and rough skin but wide-ranging terrain from rolling hills to simple plain lands. Fear not for it does not grow sharp fangs but gentle and warm natives. Fear not because it is a place embraced by history and beauty as it is embraced by its neighbors- Cayman Islands, Florida Keys, Bahamas, Jamaica, and Haiti.
Be Cuba’s Mr./Ms. Congeniality
Handling and wrestling untamed animals are fun but you may enjoy socializing with people rather than with animals. So, why not ingratiate yourself with the Cubans themselves and be the country’s mister or miss congeniality.
If you know Pitbull, Andy Garcia, Gloria Estefan, and Che Guevara, then you’re on the right track in making good relationships with the natives. These people are the perfect example of Cubans, art-loving, respectful, courteous, warm, persevering, and humorous.
Cubans are very respectful and loving. They speak formally and highly to their elders. They greet each other always while walking past one another. They exchange hugs and kisses to show affection to one another. And they bid goodbye with a handshake.
They are also friendly, helpful, and they will try to please you and fulfill all your wants and needs. They would try to toss a joke and help you keep that smile to ward off any kind of frown etched on your face while in Cuba.
But the best way to live and learn about the Cubans is to live with them. Not only will you benefit from learning, but you will also help them by staying in their casas particulares and dining at their paladares. Since monthly government licenses are expensive, helping the locals with their businesses would not only help you to build relationships. You will also acquire knowledge as to who the Cubans are, what they are all about, and how they live.
Experience the Glamour of a Movie Star
Do you want to feel like Marilyn Monroe, Lucille Ball, James Dean, or John Wayne? Then just choose from Chevy, DeSoto, Studebaker, Willys, and Nash in Cuba and relive the 40’s and the 50’s and feel like a movie star.
You won’t need any paparazzi, cameras, or lights because everything you need to feel like a celebrity is around you. Your surroundings will marvel at your effervescent beauty as you cruise along the Cuban roads. The sunshine will shed its light to make you glow and shimmer. And the clouds will snap a photo of you and develop it in the warm cerulean waters of the archipelago.
Travelling through and across Cuba won’t be as much fun, as much luxurious, or as much memorable than this because at least for a moment you get to experience what it’s like to be the brightest of stars.
Laze around and be a Beach Bum
The whole trip to Cuba might have tired you out so why not try to rest and relax under the sun with a spectacular view of the wide ocean kissing the vast expanse of the sky in the horizon. Not far from its Caribbean counterparts, Cuba also possesses breathtaking beaches that have crystal clear waters and fine sand with colors ranging from white to pink and brown to gold. Its coastline extends up to 5,700 km giving it a large beach area for tourists and locals to enjoy.
Cuba’s most renowned sand and water spot is Varadero. It extends up to 20 km of immaculate white sand that is washed by the waves from the turquoise waters of the ocean. Another spectacular beach in Cuba is Playas del Este and Playa Pilar that captured the attention of famous literary artist, Ernest Hemingway. There is also Playa Duaba, which offers different limestone formations and cliffs; Cayo Levisa, which features mangrove plants framing the other side of Cuba; and Playa las Tumbas, which is located in a UNESCO biosphere.
Travel Time without Leaving the 21st Century
Travel through time and revive the yesterdays of Cuba today.
Many believe that time travel is impossible. But with the nine UNESCO-distinguished sites in Cuba, time travel is at an arm’s reach. Neoclassical to Moorish and Venetian to Gothic; name it and they have that kind of architecture. Castles and fortresses, cobbled streets and rejas, Catholic churches and labyrinth-like roads have made travelling through centuries easier than building a machine that defies time and space.
One of the cities considered as a National Monument in the archipelago is the sleeping city of Trinidad. This city was once the home of the country’s sugarcane industry until it began to rest in 1850. Residing in Trinidad are perfectly preserved Hispanic and Moorish architecture suggesting the time it was colonized by Spain. Its palaces and mansions stand since the 17th, 18th, and 19th century with distinct features such as its iron windows, intricate arches, and red violet colored roofs. Nothing was too big or too small. It was all proportional and each stood accordingly with one another.
The Trinidad streets are confusingly interesting, forming a maze that is in accordance with the trend in the old times. Its cobblestone streets remind the division of slaves and elites in its earlier years. Its Plaza Mayor, boasts of architectural gemstones such as the House of Conspirators distinct for its Brunet Palace and Andalusian balconies and the Church of the Holy Trinity, which was once the place where a 17th century church stood after it was wrecked by a hurricane.
Another one of Cuba’s important sites is Cienfuegos. Its houses and buildings stand proud for its French roots and neoclassical flair. It shines as another location in the south of Cuba and has an idyllic environment. Cienfuegos has Parque Marti, which is edged with theatres with styles that reflect that of the Italians. It is also a place to voyeur around and find out why it was a powerhouse in the sugarcane industry. And one of those places that will give you a glimpse of Cuba’s sugarcane is the combined Moorish, Venetian, and Gothic styled towers of Acisclo del Valle Blanco. Each tower signified power, religion, and love, as Blanco wanted and is now a site to marvel at the bay, dine in, and drink free cocktails.
But of all the historical gemstones that Cuba has, one of the most distinguished is the La Hababa Vieja or the Old Havana. The city’s foundation in Plaza de Armas always attracts a large number of tourists every year. It also boasts of a pre-Baroque convent in Covento de Santa Clara. Another baroque-style architecture known in the city is the Casa de la Obra Pia and the neoclassical El Templete.
Apart from these, there are other sites in Cuba to choose from like the La Capitolio, an exact replica of the US Capitol; the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, the oldest of Cuba’s forts; the Torre de Manaca Iznaga, once served as a watchtower to observe the slaves; the Museo de la Revolucion, which houses the story of Cuba’s past; the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales,which once housed the representatives of the Spanish Monarchy; and the mausoleum of Che Guevara who led a rebellion against the Batista leadership.
More than More
There are still a lot of things to do in Cuba such as riding a bicycle along its tobacco fields, watching different species of birds fly and land in nearby areas, toasting a mojito where Hemingway drank it, watching the sunset and walking along Havana’s Malecon, dancing to the different rhythms in the streets, and tasting the local delicacies that are mostly spicy as other Caribbean cuisines are.
Cuba definitely has a pulsating blend of people, history, architecture, music, culture, and adventure. It has a discreet simplicity and beauty that separates it from its counterparts in the Caribbean and in the Atlantic.
Cuba has definitely much to offer. Your story of discovery, however, need not rely on any travel article or any author’s words. It depends on you. And no other way would be best but to pack your bags, book a flight, and discover Cuba, where you can be anything you like and be anyone you want to be.