The problem with traveling, and enjoying it, is that once you start, it’s hard to give it up. I fantasize about putting roots down and settling in one place…except, the reality of doing that some how scares me. I think of the routines and habits that come along with being “settled”, the consistent parade of familiar faces, sites and scents, and I run for the nearest airport and farthest/quick destination point. Why that is? I do not know…perhaps I do not want my roots to show. Roots being a metaphor for permanent settlement and not my socio-cultural /ethnic background.
So the constant question these days is, “Where are you going?” My standard response has become, “The Caribbean for two months and then we will see from there.” This is the plan that is not. Going to Cuba has slightly side tracked my Ecuador plans because while it’s markets are spartan, compared to Cuenca (Ecuador), Cuban people are really hard to beat. And in the end, isn’t the experience of being in a new place more about the people than the marketplace? Of course I can’t work in Cuba, so unless I create a project for myself, the Cuban adventure will last until boredom sets in and we move off to the next country.
So, this summer’s adventure is all about discovering Cuba, its culture, history, people and food. We will see where the adventure leads us from there. I am committed to spending at least the next 12 months abroad, so we will see. And if I happen to meet my prince and fall in love in [enter the country name], I may consider planting my roots in the ground and not simply in a portable/roll-away flowerpot.
Yes…every so often we record ourselves saying relatively random and superfluous things. And today we thought we would share some of those things with you.
Three things that the Cuban government does very well are (1) educate its people, (2) include cultural knowledge and the arts as part of the national curriculum; and (3) foster environments that are inclusive, from an early age.
The underpinnings of a society are best seen in the behavior of its children and Cuban children could not have been more engaging, enchanting and inclusive of a little girl who had no idea what they were saying. So below is a clip of three scenes: (1) Reflects the value Cubans place on providing an education that promotes critical thinking, strategic analysis, and active engagement (all children learn chess); (2) Reflects the high value placed on culture and the arts in Cuban society (this young girl attends a boarding school in Cienfuegos that specializes in classically trained musicianship (Cuban education is, by definition, State-run and free); and (3) Reflects the innate inclusiveness of Cuban children and how it extends outward to everyone (there is no fear here).
This is what makes Cuba unique in the world.
Cuba is a place where music and culture are valued beyond material wealth and acquisition, and as such, the sounds and rhythms of the country and its people, are never far behind. Outside of Havana, Santiago de Cuba is probably one of the best places to experience Cuba’s cultural diversity and the video below provides a snapshot.
The first scene is a group of men literally singing for their supper, to the tourists that visit Castillo del Morro (or more formally, Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca), and choose to stay for lunch.
The second scene is a singer at Casa de las Tradiciones. This is a very popular spot for both tourists and locals. The first part of the evening consists of solo (and typically older) singers with traditional tunes and the second part of the evening involves hot and sweaty salsa dancing.
The third scene is part of the musical rehearsal for the national closing ceremonies of the Feria de Libros (National Book Fair). This is my favorite piece because it reflects the strength of African cultural and linguistic roots in Cuba. When watching the dancer, imagine her arms holding up the ends of a long flowing traditional gown. This is the Ballet Folklórico Cutumba and for more info on them, click here.
I promised myself that after our side trip to Cuba I would come home and start packing. Well the packing has begun. Yesterday I started paring our life down to just a handful of boxes (my goal is three) and a couple of ready suitcases. Given how relatively nomadic my life has been, reducing our family’s belongings to those items that are historically most crucial (e.g., children’s art projects and awards), gets easier every time I do it…but I always have to ask myself, “Am I letting too much go, should I hold on to this piece and that piece?”
The reality for me is that we are more than the collection of items that sit on our shelves or gather dust in boxes that we only open when we are moving. I am more than that collection of 1st love, love letters, that I have towed around with me for the last 20 years. I am more than the sum of things that I thought were important once, but no longer.
So our spring cleaning has begun. Today I paid for my next two months of rent and gave my landlord my notice. Hooray for small victories!
Always at moments like these, when I stand ready on the precipice of significant change, I visualize an image that gives me strength and conviction. I imagine Jesus walking on water, a miracle born through his unfailing faith in God, and I imagine myself, unfailing in my belief that God will always protect and guide me, walking on a sea of change, buoyed by God’s grace. This gives me the strength to proceed without fear.
Can I get an AMEN!!