Cuba, My Unknown Homeland
I live on an island that everybody says is beautiful, I too would say it if I knew it. It’s rare. I was born in Cuba, I have always been here, I have never left here and I hardly know it. I don’t know it, except the intense blue sky, the blazing sun that breaks rocks, and the ocean, which at times seems quiet and peaceful while at others, restless, a beach-scented breeze that cleans the lungs. A city that begs outloud not to be forgotten.
They say that in Pinar del Rio beautiful landscapes are found, The Vinales Valley, the Portales cave, and …I almost forgot! Soroa. A friend of mine told me that there is a big collection of orchids. I don’t remember exactly, but I think she told me that there are more than one thousand types of orchids in Soroa. This friend described to me the Castillo de las Nubes (Castle of the Clouds) waterfall and Mirador (Sightseer) Mountain.
She says she got to the summit of the mountain grasping for air. Then she realized it was the lack of food. She was carrying no pack, yet her feet felt as if they were made of lead. The foreign tourists passed her by with backpacks half her size and yet, like feathers in the wind, they moved up accross the mountain.
Even so, the hike was worth the pain. My friend filled her lungs with fresh air, regained her strength and was perplexed by all the beautiful plain valley only interupted by scattered mound-shaped hills. Her trip, however, was not at all easy. It took her half the morning to climb the mountain and then descend. Finally, she got to the base of the moutain thirsty, but…the water they had there was bottled and in dollars!
Buy a little bottle of water with dollars? That’s a luxury for Cubans. Thus she disregarded the idea. My friend could visit the beautiful turist location because there is a military resort located there. Her father, a Major of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, received, as a reward, a stay of nine days in that paradise.
My husbands’ grandmother had the opportunity to see Topes de Collantes, in the mountanous region of the Escambray, near Trinidad, in the province of Sancti Spiritus. She is a civilian worker in the Armed Forces and she earned a worker’s distinction in her workplace. As a reward, they gave her one week with all the expenses paid at a hotel managed by the Armed Forces.
That’s how I know Cuba, by references. I try to imagine its beauty by the emotion with which the people I know describe Varadero, Cayo Largo, Guardalavaca…
Sometimes I feel a harmless jealousy, other times, I don’t feel anything. How do I feel part of something that I only know by references, that I have only “seen” in my imagination? It’s like a fairy tale, pure fantasy
That does not mean that I do not feel Cuban. But, feeling Cuban does not allow me to say that I KNOW Cuba, my homeland, and that makes me sad.
Photos: nyon45, fabri’s photo, Alessandro Di Francesco y Mykr, Flickr