Actually no, that title’s shit. Need something edgier.
Cuba: A Look Back In Anger
No that’s wank.
Dan After Cuba
Oh forget it.
So. Assuming you have now read all 15 days of my diary (God bless your patience), you will now have an idea of why I find it so hard to sum the country up in a nice little manageable sentence. Two weeks after the first manic taxi ride took me plunging into the jaws of the mysterious communist island, Cuba belched me back out again, shivering and bewildered and wondering what the hell I’d just been through.
I have never learned as much about myself in such a short time as I did in those two weeks (and doubt I will again for a long time). I learned what it means to feel alienated, to feel utterly, completely alone, to rely on myself, to understand compromise, to embrace community, and to never drink rum on the beach at midday.
Cuba at its worst is… well, you’ve read the articles. It’s tough. But, with the safety of hindsight, those moments where everything turned to shit are the ones I will remember. Cuba isn’t safe, it isn’t easy – and it makes the country buzz. The people are alive. They toil and struggle and despair, and 30 minutes later they are roaring with laughter, sipping a beer and twirling each other around a packed dancefloor.
In England, it’s possible to finish a full day’s to-do list without standing up. Banking, shopping, learning, business, watching films, listening to music, talking to friends: you can do all of this on your laptop in one morning without getting out of bed. In Cuba this list would take you a month and you’d probably lose a leg in the process.
Maybe the reason I struggled so much in Cuba is because we are part of a culture that has gone soft (cue a thunderous applause from my Grandad). Adverts guide us gently to our next meal. Signs adorn every surface reminding us to watch our step, and mind our heads. Do you ever get the feeling at the end of the day that for the past 12 hours of waking you have simply been looking from screen to screen to other fascinating screen until it is time to sleep? (I know, I know. Pretty hypocritical considering this whole blog thing. I did say I’d rather it be an enormous dusty book.)
Despite Cuba’s unrepentant buggering of my ego, I have found myself missing it. I miss the everyday adventure that is almost gone from our lives back home. The Cubans, I’m sure, would give their last over-sized cigar for a chance of an easy life in the first world. The grass is always greener, I suppose.
One thing is certain. Whenever I feel low, for the rest of my life, I will always smile to myself with the knowledge that 5,000 miles away, as lightning flashes above and a warm sea breeze tumbles ashore, hundreds of Cubans are lounging, drinking and dancing along that glorious malecon.