The picture below is one that I took this past summer in Cuba, in a washroom in the lobby of Iberostar Ensenachos. A housekeeper had arranged the words with tiny flowers, and she was standing there, not far from her creation, a discrete smile on her face. Perhaps she was simply proud of what she had done, or perhaps she was hoping that the women who used the washroom and admired her floral arrangement would have a dollar for her.
“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” True, isn’t it?
This quote is frequently attributed to the French philosopher Henri Bergson but it belongs in fact to the Canadian writer Robertson Davies, from Tempest-Tost (Toronto: Clark, Irwin, 1951), p. 127.
I have no idea how this woman came by this quotation. Maybe a tourist had shared it with her. But I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it came from her directly. Despite the poverty of the Cubans, their education is rich. In Varadero, I have seen a woman reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” while selling trinkets to tourists in an outdoor market.
More than any place where I’ve been in Cuba, Cayo Ensenachos rouses a strange stir in my heart. It has a certain feel of decay, of lost glory, much like Cuba itself. Think of a colonial, white, luxurious palace that has been overcome by the jungle and by time… Think of wandering through deserted ballrooms and abandoned gardens, where the only water in the still water fountains comes from gushes of tropical rain… Think of a silence of the end of the world, and of the clickety-clack of crabs’ pincers, and of the surf like a haunting, distant murmur… Think of all the stories such a place might hold…
Since today is the date for Denise Covey’s blogfest, “Sharing,” I thought I’d share this with you. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!