I've got a million pieces in my head I'd like to write, and one piece that I've had on my "to do" list for a long, long time is a travel piece about the places I'd like most to visit. I love to travel, and before I became single and broke, I used to travel a lot. Besides domestic trips to places like Florida, Ohio, Massachusetts and Vermont, I've been to foreign countries such as Italy, Bermuda and Aruba. Not quite the complete list of places I'd like to see in my lifetime, but not too bad, right?
I mentioned in yesterday's post that these days it doesn't feel like I'll ever get to travel again, but I can still dream, can't I? Earlier today I was tutoring at a students' house and I saw a book that reminded me of a place I've always wanted to visit, and since it start's with the letter 'C,' I had my topic for the day. The book was a photo book of Havana, old and new, and though I didn't really get a chance to flip through it, I really wanted to.
Ever since I was a youngster watching reruns of I Love Lucy, I was always fascinated with Ricky Ricardo and his Cuban heritage. His accent, the music he'd play, and of course Lucy's antics concerning Ricky's nationality was always hysterical.
Ricky Ricardo wasn't the only depiction or exposure of Cubans in the media. Who could forget the nefarious Tony Montana from Scarface? Gloria Estefan or Celia Cruz? There was a great gay-themed movie by Cuban poet and novelist Reinaldo Arenas called Before Night Falls. Cubans have made contributions in almost every facet of entertainment and sports. That's not really what makes Cuba so fascinating to me, though.
Of course, Cuba has always been, in my lifetime anyway, a taboo place for Americans. Though restrictions on traveling to Cuba are much lighter than they were, it's still not an easy place to get to. I used to work in a bank where News 12 weatherman Norm Dvoskin used to patronize, and I remember having conversations with him about Cuba. I remember him telling me that he absolutely loved the place. He traveled there once a year, via Canada, and the stories he told always intrigued me.
Cuba is surely an intriguing place, both a beautiful Caribbean island and a place of historic proportions. From what I've heard, much of Cuba looks like one has stepped back in time. Old American cars from before the Revolution line the streets, and though it is not brash by any means, its culture is rich and exciting. Lonely Planet says of the island nation:
There ought to be a banner in the arrivals hall at Havana airport that reads ‘Abandon pre-conceptions, all ye who enter here.’ Get ready for shocks, surprises, and eye-opening epiphanies. Twenty-first century Cuba promises to be like nowhere else you’ve ever visited: economically poor, but culturally rich; visibly mildewed, but architecturally magnificent; infuriating, yet at the same time, strangely uplifting. If the country were a book, it would be James Joyce’s Ulysses; layered, hard to grasp, serially misunderstood, but – above all – a classic.