Saturday, March 29, 2008

“Wow, You Look Like Barbies!”

Believe it or not, this is what a six-year old boy told us, with amazing audacity, one evening, at the hotel’s restaurant. Suffice it to say, it made my night!

My husband had stayed in the room, waiting for a phone call, so my two daughters (7 and 4) and I went to dinner on our own.

We’ve been sitting down for a short time when this boy came to our table, took a good look at each of us in turn and then said, “Wow, you look like Barbies!” (Well, we all have long hair… He! He! He!) He then took a step towards my older daughter and said, “Wow, you really look like Barbie!” (Without false modesty, she is indeed very beautiful. We keep getting compliments for her everywhere we go – it’s almost embarrassing.) Then he turned on his heels and went back to his parents’ table, leaving us flabbergasted.

There are some children who behave and look more mature than their age, and this little boy was definitely one of them. In fact, he was more like a miniature adult, from his face with a big nose (his features curiously made me think of the 1930’s gangsters) to his clothes, from his bold words to the incredible self-assurance of his movements.

But, hey, nothing like a little boost to one’s vanity, every now and then…

And now for some more pictures…

This is a view from our terrace (looking north-west), on the sixth floor of the hotel. Nothing above us but the sky and the pelicans. Two walls were made of glass. I could hear the sound of the waves from the room…

A cactus tree...

A rainbow (from our terrace, looking north)...

A sunrise (also as seen from our terrace, on the south-eastern side)...

The latest addition to my collection of Che Guevarra t-shirts...

Monday, March 24, 2008

This Is Where

this beach
at this sea
of an end of the world

this sand
all the forgotten lives
of shells

these liquid horizons
embracing the pelican’s
lonely flight

this white beach

this is where I love you most

this beach
in this salted rumble
under this sky
with almost unrecognisable constellations
under this curiously tilted moon
this is where I slowly drown in my mojito

and think of him,
the Great Hemingway

he is in Havana still
on his chair
in La Bodeguita

we raise our glasses to each other
over the years
over the waters

while I sit on this beach
hoping to become a shell

among myriad

this is where I dream lives
this is where I write
this is where I love you most

this beach

To make your own mojito (pronounced moh-hee-toh) you’ll need:

1 teaspoon of powdered sugar
juice from 1 lime (2 oz)
4 mint leaves
1 sprig of mint
Havana Club white rum (2 oz)
2 oz club soda

(The complete recipe can be found on
Taste of Cuba.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I'm Back...

I was hoping to write something nice, a little poem that has been taking shape in my mind on the last night on the beach before our return. Find a nice picture. Organise my thoughts on what I've seen on this trip and share them with you. Instead I’m offering an apology.

Our return flight was delayed by six hours, which luckily we spent in the hotel and not at the airport. That means we left Varadero at 3:30 am, on Sunday morning, and arrived in Montreal at 7 am. Daylight Saving Time hit me with full force (we still had that precious extra hour in Cuba for another week). I had to go back to work on Monday. The prosaic life has found its course again...

But even now, I can hardly keep my eyes open. I’m an automaton with a brain of molasses, whose only thought is that Earth’s gravitational pull has somehow mysteriously increased in this part of the world.

I have to sleep… I look at the mounds of snow that hide the houses and imagine myself as a hibernating creature, untimely awoken from her sweet sleep. A sleep in which she dreamt of white beaches, and warm seas, and palm trees...

I’ll be back soon...