What did I say about writing sooner than last time? Well I guess I won’t be making any more promises like that! It’s already been a little over 2 months since I uprooted my life and moved to Havana. Hard to believe that. I’ve found my own way of existing in this chaotic, noisy city full of extroverts. Some days are easier than others. There are some beautiful, sun-shiny days when my internal rhythm just seems to glide perfectly into the bustle of the streets. I accomplish what I set out to do; I buy vegetables and find toilet paper; I communicate clearly with people and get what I need; I greet my friends in the street and the bus I’m waiting for comes right on time; I feel weightless and in love with the beauty around me. Then there are other days where everything about this place seems to be against me. The security guard at my school won’t let me in the back entrance I’ve been using for two months simply because he’s never seen me before but he lets the Cubans straight through; it is impossible to find eggs anywhere within a a 5-mile radius; there is no water in my building for 5 days and I have to bathe at a neighbor’s house; they fumigate my apartment for mosquitos which supposedly will prevent me from getting dengue but causes me to throw up everything I’ve eaten that day; I just need to hear my mom’s voice, but I have to buy a new wifi card and then the signal keeps dropping because every Cuban on 23 is trying to talk to family in Miami at 10pm on a Saturday.
It would be easy to get lost in the irritation of these moments. It makes me understand just the tiniest bit what Cubans go through every day. It has the potential to make a person very frustrated and unmotivated. Why try so hard if nothing is going to work how you think it will? Better to just enjoy the moments of rum and music with loved ones when you can. But there is something beautiful about the rhythm of life here too, the way everyone is more relaxed about time. 4pm doesn’t necessarily mean 4pm and that’s ok. No one can predict how long the busses are going to take or if it’s going to rain and if you meet a friend in the street you are never too busy to say hi and make sure their family is well. I am haunted by the memory of rushing this way and that back home, stressing over arriving 15 minutes late and shoving granola bars into my mouth in the car. Every minute has a price tag and yet we hardly enjoy any of them.
And so I am learning to enjoy each tiny moment here. I am learning to love myself a bit more. I am learning to stop thinking so much about every decision and getting caught up in my head. Yes, this over-thinking artistic American girl is slowly learning how to let herself go.
And then there is the problem of torticas. For those that don’t know this is a beautiful, devilish creation that looks like a boring round blob of a cookie, but is so much more. I first discovered them after a neighbor looked longingly at the bin next to the bread I was buying and said “ay que ricas son esas torticas...” I had seen them before but never paid much attention. They sit there stacked in perfect rows, like tiny unassuming soldiers. They know their duty on this earth and they know their power is stronger than any flashy cupcake or twisted fried donut. They don’t need frosting or fancy decorations to penetrate your psyche and take over your soul, all for the price of just one peso cubano. Biting into one of these circles of joy is an explosion of pure bliss and comfort, salt and sugar, crunch and butter, flour-y, powdery heaven. One is not enough. Two is not enough. Only after you’ve blacked out and your stomach is swollen and your face is covered in crumbs do you realize you must stop eating torticas. After a few too many of these episodes I’ve had to ration myself. No more than two torticas every other day. Though I’ve thoroughly enjoy each moment of indulgence with no regrets, I would prefer not to have to buy all new pants in Cuba.