“Sitting on the porch of the Hotel Nationale, my hands are heavy with the weight of my crystal glass, but my heart is lightened by its Cuba-Libre contents. I can see Al Capone’s dice in her eyes. The sweet scent of coconut and kerosene is one hell of a cocktail. No doubt it will make the dark shadows dance.”
It isn’t hard to see why intelligent young dissidents could dream of revolution in a place like this. Intoxicated by the fumes of Venezuelan gasoline burnt lazily in a Buick six and the old world charm of a long lost colonialist empire, one can be transported along the blue-bordered Malecon in an open-top “American Classico” to a world that no longer exists. The arms of yesteryear offer a warm embrace, framed with a hazy vision of an isolated paradise disowned by modern convention. An isle of abandon that was once ruled by the lowest realms of human treatment and governed by chains and whips is now pulsing with people of all backgrounds, celebrating their freedom and the superficial fairness of their society. It's citizens have broken the shackles of modernity through bloody revolution, fueled with fierce national pride. But it is time for a new generation. A generation that masquerades as a supermodel of blissful ignorance, yet knows all too well its tumultuous lineage. Still, this dark eyed beauty chooses not to accept convention. It does not care to recognize the health risks of Cohiba tobacco or the perils of Havana Club rum. It lives its life unencumbered by modern follies such as global warming, occupational health and safety or stress in any modern form of the word. The citizens work together to share their slice of the world that is on the doorstep of “developed” civilisation, but so far away from perfect.
It is a pleasure to experience the hospitality and the innocence of the people who do not accept the real wrongdoings of humans to our planet. The population has one of the highest levels of education of any country in the world (many attend University or complete tertiary study), yet in a country of entirely false economy, they choose not academic pursuits but instead choose to interact with people – people from their own land and foreigners alike. The travellers might as well be from Mars – they are straight out of the future compared to the average Cuban. The visitors have benefitted from the progress of corporations and citizens intent on the accumulation of wealth, however they choose to escape their normal worlds to instead focus on the accumulation of experience…and the Cubans are delighted to welcome these romantic young vagabonds. What can be more morally fulfilling than that? Perhaps one day interplanetary travel will be a reality and any form of terrestrial exploration will be simply banal. But for now, the contrasts are so stark between Cuban culture and a modern fast life, it is the best insight one can get of time travel. Cuba is captivating, liberating and inspiring and right now a second revolution is taking place - a revolution of culture and economy. I cannot recommend more highly that you rush to experience this chapter of history.
"Your taxi collectivo is waiting, sir."