Where I’m from the sun is always shining and the sea is always waving back and forth. It’s a small place, really, with a few people in comparison to the more heavily populated areas of the globe, but it has shaped me like your society has shaped you.
You see, where I’m from is filled with ironies present like the potholes on its streets. It is a place in which you are expected to be original, open, beautiful, intelligent, and hardworking. It is a place in which gender roles do strike as the norm in the extreme traditional sense, but the only laws holding you back are those your household sets upon you. It’s too hot there, we are hot-headed and temperamental.
To be honest, you must think that every place can fit into this category, and maybe it can but keep reading… There is no one that can destroy the essence of yourself, there are secrets, scandals, and natural inspiration wherever you turn to. We are a people in outbursts everlasting. You are expected to have backbone, and if you don’t have any, it is most certainly installed into you with the tearing of your back and the stuffing of bark– it may be done by your friends or family, or it may be done by the landscape.
We are a poetic people in where whichever way we turn we smell the sea air, we hear the tropical birds, and we are surrounded by waterscapes and land features mirroring mingled traditions. We bathe in the rivers in rituals of purification, we pick the sweetest of fruits from the fertile trees, and we drink the honey of the bees and the sugar water of the land. All of these things are seen as religion, every Cuban individual will deal with these things, will grow to love them, and maybe even hate them.
Back to the ironies. You are powerful and tempestuous like the storms forever haunting the land, but you are also a delicate rose of the night and a victim to the land’s tragedies. You are prideful and rich in emotions, but also humble and reserved like the secret underground lagoons from which we extricate the water. You are the water you drink and the heat generated by the sun that evaporates you and regardless of where your life takes you, you can never escape the fundamentals instilled upon you from your adventures there.
When we hurt, we show it. Our emotions are plainly seen on our faces and body movements; we romanticize everything. We are all writers, singers, free-spirited dancers, and hard laborers. The roots and the past that followed us always will remain as a part of us, but we all eventually will see the world in an innovative way. We are ever-changing like the land and sea that surrounds it, but we will always be the land, we will always be Cuba.