Lucid, shadowed reminiscent garden
in an infinite insomnia
harnessing the dawn.
Throbbing uniquely,uniquely understanding,
following the beat, freshness,
watercolor eyes of the city."
This excerpt taken from "Habana" by Cuban poet Jorge Enrique Gonzalez-Pacheco encompasses the essence that is Habana. Untouched by many of the commonalities of Western society, Cuba’s wealth is not defined monetarily; it’s shaped by the Cubano culture. The people, the sights, the sounds – all puzzle pieces creating a country with a pulsating heart and soul entirely its own. During my visit to La Habana, I immersed into Cuban society. It engulfed me and still hasn’t let go.
Once proclaimed as "Key to the New World and Rampart of the West Indies" by the Spanish crown, La Habana has a history as colorful as any. Strolling down the streets of the Caribbean’s largest city, the plethora of 50’s Pontiacs, Fords, and Buicks remind us of societal restrictions, yet have a vintage beauty that remains solely to the island. Beyond the classic American cars, architectural decay that still elicits charm like nowhere else, penetrating images of Fidel and Che, or the sprawling Malecón, stand the people.
Whether white, Afro-Cuban, mulatto, or Asian, each and every Habanero I encountered told a story – some of struggle and strife, others of accomplishment, and many of optimism beyond a Communistic Cuba. Regardless of age or even profession, Cuban people have a warmth that radiates and invites you. They are the essence of La Habana – that one last puzzle piece that makes the picture complete.