Cyclone Through Havana
On the second day of my visit to Cuba, a cyclone hit Havana. I was walking around the suburbs, looking for a place where I could get my hair cut. How was I supposed to know that a cyclone was coming in? I am not a weather donkey whose right hip aches before a storm rolls in. A nice man smoking a pipe on his front porch saw me meandering and scolded me and sent me running back to my apartment (stupid tourists!). I was staying with a ~70 year old woman with crystal clear blue eyes in a 20 story high-rise apartment built in the ’40s. There was one broken down elevator the size of a coffin, so I decided to make my way up the near pitch-dark stairs to the 14th floor. Cuba is not a great place to visit if you are claustrophobic or afraid of being crushed under dilapidated buildings.
I finally made it up to the apartment just in time to watch the impact. I was looking out the 14th floor window and next to me was my elderly host. This was nothing new to her, she had lived all her life in Havana; however, the 250 kilometer/hour winds made me cry out for my mommy. It was eerie to watch Havana get destroyed by the invisible force. We spent the next few days without electricity and decent food (I can’t even look at spam now). During those days, I spent a lot of time with my host and she slowly started to confide her thoughts on the Cuban psyche and shared her fears and frustrations of living in virtual captivity. She told me all about Cuba before Fidel took over and about the tragic hero, Che, who was used as a Trojan Horse for today’s dictatorship.
After the cyclone passed, I spent the rest of my time in Cuba getting lost, grabbing dinner with locals, being thrown down by army people for wandering into the wrong place … the best way to explain it all is that I would go back in a heartbeat. There is no other place in the world with its history and spirited people. As my good Brazilian travel-buddy would put it, “En Cuba, ahi cultura viva!”.