Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Havana

A dog lies dead on the sidewalk in Parque Central. 


For a moment, I believe it to be sleeping, an odd moment of peace in contrast to the pulse of the rest of Havana. Then I realize that I am perhaps the only one who has paused to notice.

It is not so much that it is chaos here, like that you expect in a Moroccan market or a New York subway. It is more that Havanans are just so busy living. The line between the public and private is hardly even a line, but more a series of vague fuzzy dashes. 

People are living everywhere- in the tops of formal looking ornate buildings, amidst crumbling walls. Their lives leak out into the streets. In fact, the streets are their front yards, sidewalks serving as baseball fields. They hold conversations from their narrow balconies with the people below, as though they are merely across a table from one another. The sidewalks are skinny, and as you squueze along, you can often see into open doors into their front rooms, people having dinner two feet from the curb. Women stand in their doorways, expectantly, less than arms length from all who pace by. Couples kiss each other frantically beneath dropping roofs, mere steps from their friends. Even this home we stay in, up two precarious flights of stairs, is separated from the open hallway by but a wrought iron fence. The walls of the home aren't entirely sealed in from the overlapping roofs, like a bungee corded tarp.

Yet, despite these missing walls, they just live. Unlike us, they don't lock two doors behind them before they face the world. The world is always just there.

12 comments:

Daisy said...

I love the sound of that. So vibrant and real- and we barely even recognise our neighbours! Hope you're having a wonderful time.

insomniaclolita said...

Those sound so unfamiliar yet so enchanting :) I always wanna visit Havana, maybe I really should start planning.

Surfergrrl said...

very interesting observation! Having good connections with people is a highly underrated activity in most people's lives. can't to hear more about the trip!

longredcape said...

Sometimes I wish my life was like that. I like having no neighbors because I can walk around my house naked, but at the same time I just wish I could experience a community like that.

Tristan | the arw said...

I spent a year living in Chile -- the experience was much like you describe here. Completely different from what I've known. It's both refreshing and comforting, but it can also be extremely unnerving. Especially with a dead dog in the street, or packs of undernourished pups wandering aimlessly. Lot's to think about, lot's of inspiration for writing. Sometimes very hard to put into words.

It's good to get out of what we know, to leave the country and experience a foreign culture, a foreign way of life. But it can also be so difficult, or even depressing.

I've romanticized the idea of Cuba, of Havana. And I know, when I finally get there, it will be vastly different from the dream I have.

Paula said...

It must be nice to just "live" . . .

Mandy said...

This sounds absolutely heavenly. I want to live in a place like this, living life with everyone and just enjoying it. So beautifully written.

Emily said...

this is written beautifully.

Jocelyn said...

Your writing is always interesting--but here it's gorgeous, too. What poetry in your description, right down to the couples mashing on the streets.

Meghan said...

You write about Havana beautifully and truthfully. It takes me back to Cuba with your prose.

smidge said...

Im so jealous, i would love to go to Havana, but Cuba isnt the easist (or cheapest to get to from Scotland!)

the frog princess said...

I. Want. To. Go.

Curse my stupid government and their stupid feud :P

I miss the tropics.