This week you get a well deserved break from me, Warriors of the World!
I'm handing over the blogging reins to five dear friends who will be regaling you with tales of their travels over several different continents. I loved their stories and their pictures and have a feeling that you will be equally as enamoured and filled with wanderlust!
Today we're starting off with Henry and Emma who spent their honeymoon in the colourful and exuberant, perplexing and paradoxical Caribbean island of Cuba.
We got married on 26 July at the gorgeous Anstey Hall near Cambridge and Emma was the most beautiful and cultured bride in the world. Where else could we go than the most beautiful and cultured island in the world?
Cuba is a heady mix of sun, sea, music, dance, mysticism and cocktails. Music is entwined into the Cuban psyche and even street musicians are professionally qualified.
We were thrilled to see the Roberto Faz orchestra in Havana and the flamboyant dancers in the shows but equally impressed by the more laid back performances in bars and in the Casa de la Trova in Trinidad. When you have been bewitched by the music and a mojito or three it’s hard not to be drawn into the dance and we strutted our stuff as only the English can at the small but thronging cabaret under the Caribbean stars in Viñales, much to the amusement of the locals no doubt. We didn’t mind and at the beach of Cayo Levisa with its miles of clean white sand and not a soul to be seen, we found our own star.
Cubans are educated, polite and curious. Their elegant and crumbling architecture seems to sum up their attitude towards life, that they would prefer to spend time talking and singing, discussing the poetry of the Revolution and dancing to their african infused rhythms, seems to justify the lack of concentration on the finer details such as finishing a building or mending the roads.
Yet there is a solidity to the surroundings belying the hardship hiding just beneath and a pride in the dignity that their struggle has given to their sense of nationhood. These are not people in thrall to western memes of consumerism and waste although they are grateful for any help you can offer in making their lives a little easier on the way through.
I got to ride a horse down a steep valley with a cuban cigar in one hand. Clint Eastwood I ain’t, but it was nice to pretend for a little while. My conversation with our guide meandered like the valley path with stories of his childhood in post revolutionary Cuba, his two marriages and his children, then his plans for the evening with his new girlfriend who lived over the mountains. Like most Cubans, he had never left the country of his birth but his experiences were rich and colourful and if he hungered after a glimpse of the wider world he did not let it get in the way of having fun in the meantime.
We were thrilled to find a flag with the date 26 julio flapping in the breeze at a service station outside Pinar del Río and only then realised that ours was the most important of days in the cuban calendar.The very day that Fidel Castro and his heroic compadres first struck out and started the road to a revolution that freed his country from a corrupt and despotic regime.
And now Cuba is part of who we are, like the day of our wedding.
Henry, over and out.
P.S. Have I tempted you? Are you already online and booking your flight?? Perhaps you've already been before. Would love to hear your impressions of Cuba and all that it has to offer.