I cannot know anything after Cuba. I do not know who is earnestly happy there, who is only happy because sunniness is the best coping mechanism in the face of adversity, or who says they are living in “the best country in the world” only because s/he is not allowed to leave it and find out otherwise. I do not remember what I look like without a glowing face of sweat and pink, without a pool of perspiration in my bra, without dust marks on all my pants to remind me of the places I sat to catch my breath.I do not understand.
I fluctuate between hope and despair, endearment and anger, guilty oversatiation and constant hunger. I see a Cuba of affection, of love, of calling women “beauties” and “princesas” and “amorcitas“. Amorcitas are my favorite. Next to it, I see a world of completely avoidable decay and resignation. I see and hear the Havana of reggaeton and salsa and bright yellow pants. I also see the ghost town of Havana, with the ever-present police officers interrupting the shadows of the night.
I am still processing Cuba. I feel the need for a verdict, even if I am underqualified to offer one. One cannot pass through Cuba without digging for a conclusion, without needing the closure and the cozy feeling of having decided something about it. This is where my not knowing comes in: Cuba will not let you decide easily. She, like me, will put on her face every morning. But while my face will remain glowingly pink throughout the day, Cuba’s face will change in the afternoon, and at night, and the next morning, until you are so confused that you are ready to give up. Cuba will keep spinning like this until you subscribe to viewing her as magical or enchanting or scarred or scarring or a point in the sliding spectrum of it all.