When the snow is thick on the ground in Canada and the skies have been grey over England for months, groups of young Cubans head to the beach. A frente frio, or cold front, does not stop the youth from enjoying the benefits of living in a tropical island paradise. As much as you may like to pretend that the sun is shining, the water is warm, and the beach is packed with beautiful women sunbathing, the reality of the situation is much, much different. And it is for this reality, that rum was invented.
Cubans have endured many trials and tribulations that many could not imagine, but they are not known for having an English sense of stoicism in the face of bad weather. So when the worst cold front of the season hit Cuba at the end of February, I presumed that our beach trip would be postponed. After all, Guanabo (a small beach town West of Havana) seems a lot less fun at 12 °C (53.6 °F). I was wrong. There was no turning back: we had booked and paid for our house. All we could hope was that a bottle of rum or two could help sort things out.
We left late –probably due to that second bottom of rum –and it was already midnight when we arrived in the midst of a cold rain. The street where our house was supposed to be had no numbers, so we were forced to circle many times in order to find our comfortable abode. There were fifteen of us: how many rooms? How many beds? Who needs sleep anyway?
Morning beckoned at 10am. We donned gloves and hats, thick jackets and triple layers. We were not English after all. So what do you do? The answer was simple: we talked we sang, we danced and, of course, we drank. The bottles were all empty by daybreak.
The next morning, the sun finally made its appearance. We ran to the beach, already backing hot in our bathing suits. The sun will stay out, the sea will be warm, and the rum will still be cold. Rain or shine, hot or cold, young Cubans still enjoy a weekend at the beach.