I have always been a timid traveler. When friends were striking out at 18 to tour Europe, or India or Latin America, I stayed home. It was partly a function of finances, but my timidity kept me from solving that problem and going anyway. I knew people who would get jobs along the way in a foreign country to finance the next leg of their journey. Me? A drive 90 miles north to San Francisco was nerve wracking and required just the right circumstances (compelling art show or concert) to get me there. Even low-key, friendly San Francisco was too much for my nerves.
|photography by Tara Crowley|
Imagine my surprise, then, when 40 years later my first overseas foray takes me to Habana, Cuba! Land of revolution, heat and humidity, exotic music and food. Habana is a teeming with life: 2.6 million people wake up there every day, rising in their small apartment room which serves as kitchen, sitting room, dining room and bedroom all in one. I can’t imagine what they would think of our ‘tiny house’ movement, wherein we purposefully live in (and brag about) 200 square feet of space.
There is life on the street in Cuba. Families and friends gather outside the front door (you can hardly call it a “stoop”) to banter and watch their neighbors go by. Children, dogs, vendors and Pedi cabs share the dusty decrepit roads in a remarkable ballet. A truck stops for a pup relieving himself in the middle of the narrow street: they’d mow down a pedestrian (a la NYC), but this constipated animal elicited compassion.
I woke up this morning in my 1,200 square foot home, listened to the breeze through the cedar tree (in my very own "parque" that surrounds my dwelling - oh - it's called a "yard") and marveled at the absolute quietude of it all. Meanwhile….I know what’s going on in las calles de la Habana. Viva el pueblo!