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Inside Cuban Culture

Inside Cuban Culture

It was super hot outside and it felt so nice walking on the streets at night wearing so little. The soft wind felt like it was caressing my skin. The heat mixes with seduction and the Mojitos are so alcoholic that they make you tipsy. It’s hard to walk and not smile at life.

A little Salsa band was playing in the hotel. Outside of Cuba, they’d be considered super hot! In Cuba, they are just a little street band. The band was playing and the music just made me move, shaking parts, moving my hips, I could feel every beat and every drop of Sabor in the song, mixed with some Mojito, lots of heat and a great patio. The band dragged me onto the dance floor and how could I say no to my friends. As my friend Porras says: “You dance everywhere – in the shower, in the washroom, in Obispo, in Casa de La Musica – you have no shame!” This is my dancing heaven.

It’s so great to be back in Cuba each year that I found myself this time sitting in one of the hotels in central Havana checking e-mails, after searching for a connection for an hour. It reminded me – oh yes, I was back in Cuba. Everything is slow and broken. And it’s wonderful and beautiful.

Each time that I come back to the island, I feel that life gets deeper for me here and that my network expands. I come back and hang out with old friends. I have a Cuban family now. I am inside the culture.

Every day here is an adventure because nothing ever happens according to plan. You just have to go with the flow and this is part of the magic. There are so many great stories to be told that I wish I could tell them all. But most of the time I just enjoy the moment. I find it hard to capture these experiences in words because they are so experiential that I wish I could somehow show them to everyone, so that they will be touched by the same magic. I will attempt to capture a few little ones here.

Grinding moms:
I arrived back in Havana and met my best friends – Yeri and Israel – after a year of being away. After a few hours of hanging, talking, drinking, dancing and catching up, we all went to a little restaurant to grab some food and hang out some more. The Reggaeton was blasting in the restaurant. Everyone started dancing. Teresa, Yeri’s mom bent over a chair and started grinding like there was no tomorrow. One of the young dancers from the Nacional Folklore Group of Cuba stood right behind her, grinding with her, like he was having sex with her. Yeri was watching and laughing so hard that I wished I wasn’t so lazy and actually filmed the whole thing. Only in Cuba these things are so natural!

Sexual kids:
A few days later, I was relaxing in the pool of the hotel. Reggaeton was blasting from the speakers and this little girl, who was there with her parents and grandfather, jumped into the pool with a lifebuoy and ran out and did it again. Then suddenly, every time she was about to jump, she started teasing her brother who was in the water. She was about 6 years old and he was about 2. She started grinding sexually to the tunes of Reggaeton while her parents were encouraging her to move sexy. He got pissed off and blasted water at her. Everyone laughed and she jumped into the water. This went on about 4 or 5 times and then the last time she got on 6 and was grinding with her ass in the air like there was no tomorrow. Really, only in Cuba!

This is the most sexual island that I have ever been to. Sexuality here is so natural, playful and fun that even kids are sexual. So I got into the water and started talking to her. I said: “Nena, no vas a bailar no más? Me encanta como bailas” (= Nena, you are not going to dance anymore? I love how you dance). And she looked at me, gave me this flirty look, flashing her eye lashes softly and said: “Gracias” in the softest and sweetest voice. This is how Cuban women turn out so seductive. Nicely done! She then started giving me a little teasing grind every time she passed me on the way to jump into the water, super happy about her new crowd. I sat there with a huge smile on my face just as my second Mojito arrived. Perfect timing!

Chinatown:
After a week in Havana, I took my client Christy to Chinatown to experience Chinese food. We found a restaurant and went in. Christy saw in the menu this dish she really likes. She got excited and already imagined the taste, feeling the sauce on her tongue. We waited for a while for the food to arrive; I could feel how much she craved the taste. When it arrived, Christy jumped in and started eating. Two bites later she realized that the taste didn’t have anything to do with Chinese food. I explained to her before we left that there were no Chinese people here but she didn’t get it. It’s really hard to get it because most of us live in democratic societies that are multi cultural. We were in a communist country where everything is owned by the government, and where a private person cannot own a corporation, let alone bring foreign Chinese workers. It is impossible to grasp, you just need to be there. The look on Christy’s face mirrored what I felt 2 years prior, going through the same experience. It was priceless. I asked her if she would have preferred not to come here. She said that she preferred to experience this. It opened her eyes. She was starting to see the system, how things work and the effect of communism on daily life.

The Lobster story:
On one of the weekends we travelled to the countryside to Viñales. We hired a tour guide who stunned us with her great English and knowledge. She taught us many great things about the country, history, the people and the current situation. On the way there, she told us this great story: “Three mosquitoes met – American, Russian and Cuban. The American one says to the others: ‘In America when they find a fly on a cake, they throw away the whole cake and I get to eat it. This is why I am so fat.’ The Russian one says: ‘In Russia when they find a fly on a cake, they cut the piece of the cake and throw it away and eat the rest, that’s why I have a bit of a belly.’ The Cuban fly says: ‘In Cuba when they find a fly on the cake, they take the fly out and lick his legs for the remaining cake and throw the fly out, that’s why I am so thin.’” The story made me giggle to myself. A few days later we were at a birthday party of a good friend of mine, and they made me a little Langosta (= Lobster). I was sitting on the sofa, pulling the first bite, when suddenly; the Langosta flew off my plate and onto the ground. My face showed this look of saddens as I stared at it on the floor. The Cubans jumped on their feet and said: “Don’t worry, really, this isn’t bad…”, picked it up, gave it a good brush and the next thing I knew, I was eating it and laughing at the whole situation. I couldn’t help but think of that fly and how that joke was so real. And the Langosta was precious. And I say – only in Cuba!!!

I have taken many people inside Cuban culture and set them up with unforgettable experiences that they would have never had on their own. Last year, I was at an African ceremony where people got possessed. It was a spiritual experience that I will never forget. It made me realize that for me to share this magic with others I need to bring small groups, ones that could enter such events which take place in very small homes. Due to this Latidos Productions launched exclusive trips that are designed as if people are meeting their best friend in Cuba who sets them up with the best that the country has to offer. You don’t waste time searching. You just need to walk through the door.

I have found life energy in Cuba, one that inspires my everyday life. The impact is beyond a short trip to the island. I am the happiest that I have ever been. I hope through Latidos Productions to inspire others.

May 2010

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