Today was the start of the feast . . . Cuban art abounds — public art, dance, mime, street performances, music, architecture, literature, and more! The quality is fabulous. The government support surprising and refreshing since our own country cuts the arts at every level. What a cultural adventure awaits!
This afternoon we visited a senior center. Upon leaving, an elderly initiated Priestess invited us to experience her casa de santos next door and blew me a blessing. An animistic system of beliefs that merge West African Yorubá religion with Catholicism, Santeria house-temples are decorated to the different orichás (saints) with statuary that is an eclectic mixture of kitsch, lovely items, and Catholic reliquaries. Not unlike the Andean peoples of Peru, these people historically syncretized their Oricháa with Roman Catholic Saints. Through trance ceremonies, sacred drumming and dance as well as animal sacrifices they bring right-relationship between the spirit world and this world.
This house-temple has the requisite three altars or "thrones" that represent the seats of the queens, kings, and the deified warriors that are draped with royal blue, white and red satin. They are large, elaborate shrines that are painstakingly cared for to ensure right-relationship is maintained. We are told that that night there will be traditional healing rituals taking place. Theirs is a holistic approach to well-being based on the mind, body and heart connection. In their cosmology, the world is comprised of the primal life energy called aché. They understand that when a person becomes ill it is not just a physical dysfunction, but also a malady involving suffering and bad luck — all brought on by the activity of spirits. Unfortunately, it will be impossible to return . . . this trip.
Today was our first full day exploring Havana — for now I am clicking everything as we drive by on our tour bus, walk along the older sections of town and near our hotel. There is a run down quality to the city with people standing around with seemingly nothing to do. Cuba is going to challenge me in unexpected ways . . . which is why I am here!
Cousin Liv and I flew into Havana today with a small group traveling with In Sight Cuba.
It will prove to be one of the most provocative trips I have taken in quite some time . . . the experiences — sights, sounds, textures — are all seeping slowly into the heart of me. Marinating.
I have only begun to work through the 2300+ photographs I snapped — recording everything I possibly could. Not knowing why, trusting in their importance one day. I invite you to take a peek now again as I will continue to add photos as I have time.
I am an artist and writer who aims to live life consciously and creatively with no "Plan B." My musings include experiences from my travels as well as those who inspire me.