Monday, March 15, 2010
CUBA: ONCE UPON A TIME...
Once upon a time... I wasn't so old. The picture above is of me and Daniel twenty years ago, back when we had hair -- and glasses were kinda big. It's taken at dusk in Varadero outside the restaurant of what was a then-3-Star hotel (HAHAHAHAHA) the Kawama. Before the revolution it was a casino. It's just down the beach from Al Capone's old pad, on a strip where Cary Grant, half of Hollywood, and REAL gangsters -- like The Godfather gangsters -- used to jog, gamble and barbecue. Anyway, the Kawama has subsequently been renovated. (Collapsed in a hurricane and was rebuilt.) I believe it's now a 4 Star. (HAHAHAHAHA)
This (above) was our room on the beach. It was actually a shed at the side of a large house divided into rooms. The wood supports were crawling with termites which you could see if you looked behind where the concrete had broken away. Which might explain why it and the other buildings like it collapsed. Hurricanes aside.
Anyway, Daniel and I are off on Friday for three weeks in Vietnam and Cambodia, so I'm trying to do a series of prescheduled posts... because I don't think I'll have much time for the Internet while sailing on Halong Bay or crawling over the vines and banyan trees at the jungle temples of Angor Wat. To keep this blog alive while I'm gone, I thought I might do a series of posts about Cuba. I've been there over forty times. It's inspired large parts of my first novel (The Phoenix Lottery -- now out of print but which you can buy from me). It's also where I go to unwind and snorkel. And where I had my santerìan purification ritual -- Spanish voodoo, very common in Florida -- which fairie_writer at Livejournal asked me to talk about.
Cuba has changed SO much over the years. Things are far from perfect, but the vitriol you hear on FOX "News" is mainly recycled stuff from the Cold War days. What hasn't changed is the warmth and generosity of the people.
Also, the beauty of its waters.
I'll be talking about the changes, and also including chunks from Phoenix Lottery in sections where the book touches on my real-life experience or describes things I've seen. I'm picturing a kind of writer's-eye view where the real and the imagined come together. Not sure if it'll work, but we'll see.
Oh, here, by the way, is one of the old American cars that were still running in 1990. (I saw them as late as 2000, now hardly ever.) Still, imagine cars lasting fifty years today!
And here is a view of the beach -- and of the duPont mansion, now the Las Americas Restaurante -- where we'll pick up next post.