When people ask me about my trip to Cuba, I always tell them about the vintage cars, the cigars and the dancing.
But, the question will always arise.
‘What are the people of Cuba like?’
Until I’d gone to Havana, Trinidad and Varadero-I’d pictured Cuba as a place filled with male energy. The cars the cigars and the machismo that usually dominates in a Latin culture.
And, yes, the men of Cuba love to show off their masculinity (especially the jineteros of Trinidad with their muscular African physiques).
But, I also got to witness the adoration of the feminine.
In yoga, it is said that Shakti is the ‘primal life force of the feminine face of God’ and this predominantly Christian country seems to embrace it.
Maybe it’s the mix of Santeria brought over by African slaves or the recent advances made by Mariela Castro (daughter of Raul and advocate for women’s equality and gay rights), but Cuba felt way more progressive than I’d expected.
At the Fábrica de Arte Cubano the art was edgy and sexy. It even embraced homosexuality in surprisingly liberal ways.
In the midst of the crumbling buildings, Cubans celebrate beauty in every form- be it a shiny pink 1964 Cadillac, the bright decorations at a quinceañera party or the blur of colorful dress while dancing the rumba and punto.
And this openness translates into romantic relationships. Men in Cuba are quick to lift bags, open doors, compliment and flirt. Due to a loosely socialist model, Cubans aren’t as obsessed with obnoxious wealth as we are in the US. While this leaves Cuba with less technology, the people there don’t seem to miss it!
Instead of emails they write notes.
In lieu of virtual reality, they value experience.
Because they can’t text, they talk (usually in the midst of kissing)
When you visit from a tech-dominant place like San Francisco-it feels as if the tech bro feel has been replaced by charm.
Instead of having pity for this developing country who has suffered at the injustice the US has put upon them-I came away feeling cheated of the experience of such a sweetly-balanced mix of Shiva/Shakti energy.
Only when Shiva and Shakti combine can action, movement and creation arise.
Perhaps the best representation of this balance is the statement written on the sculpture along the Malecon by Rafael Miranda San Juan
‘Faces can show the soul of the people, the diversity of gender. it is impossible for me to avoid beauty, confrontation and transculturation among us. Today our globalized world is this. It is present here and there
…Why women? Because they are the utmost expression of life. My interest, as an artist, is to donate this piece of art to the city.
May it beat among us, so that passervby may coexist with it and forever treasure it in their memory’