Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Taste of salt

Written after my first full day in Cuba.


8pm in Varadero. I'm barefoot on our deck. The sky is the consistency of muddled blackberries and a breeze rustles the palm leaves. It is eerily quiet, with only the melody of cicadas and the resonance of the shower seeping through the silence. Everyone here seems to prefer the company of the noise and crowds in the lobby bar to the still humidity elsewhere.

My skin is sticky with the residue of sweat, sunscreen and sea water. My lips taste faintly of salt. He finds such textures unnerving, and frequently dashes to the shower to rinse them off. I find it almost a little sensual, a reminder that I am in the tropics, the land of thick air. 

Perhaps there is part tropic in me, for my skin absorbs the tint of the sun almost like a sponge. He tells me I look somehow more appropriate with this hue in my cheeks, as though it makes my features, my dark eyes and olive tinged complexion, look more at home. I also love the freedom my limbs have in the heat. Instead of being restrained by the puddles or frost, they are free to loll around in the softness of a loose sundress, my toes sinking in the sand.

It feels more comfortable here when there are fewer people around. While I had my face pressed to the bus window as we drove through town, I find the people watching in resorts almost infuriatingly stagnant. Sunburned flesh, speedos, fanny packs, drunken self righteousness. We are not entirely cut out for the land of all-inclusive. Today I saw a fat man ash his cigar in the middle of a swimming pool and I wanted to scream.

The employees are deceptive in trying to keep us in the confines of this odd compound. They overact being shocked when we ask for information on the actual city of Varadero, or, worse yet, the "regular" bus to Havana. They feign ignorance, encourage us to go on a tour instead. 

On the bright side, there are pina coladas for free, $2 mickeys of rum, all you can eat ice cream, and towels shaped like swans. There is also sand soft like cotton sheets, and water the lightest and sheerest shade of turquoise I've ever seen. And there is the taste of salt on his lips after he laughs at me when I fail to avoid the breaking of a wave in my face, and I chase him in slow motion through the pulse of the tide. I suppose that makes it worth all the drunk fanny-pack wearers in the world.

11 comments:

dmb5_libra said...

i was moved, cringed, and laughed all at the same time...damn you're a good writer! :P

Lauren said...

Your writing is so beautiful! I love the descriptions of both what you were feeling and what was going on around you.

EP said...

Beautiful writing! You make me want to travel to experience it all myself.

sour said...

i feel the same way about resorts...it feels so false, but hey...all you can drink.
depends on what type of vacation you're looking for

Meghan said...

Great observation of Varadero and the tourists:) I erred on the side of the fanny pack variety but also got a taste for the local life.

ablogofherown.wordpress.com said...

Gorgeous.

Surfergrrl said...

nice post! I have to agree, the salty lips and tropics suits me as well.

Elle said...

Beautiful post! I need a vacation.

EF said...

I'm thrilled about the US relaxing travel restrictions to Cuba! Your writing MUST have been an influence on Obama!

Yoda said...

Why must it be 46 degrees and cloudy in New York right now?

Maris said...

Amazing! This sounds like a dream vacation