An Excerpt from my Havana Journal: Part Three

 
“In May 2012 my roommate and I spent a week in Havana, Cuba.  This is an unedited excerpt from the journal I kept at the time.”
 

May 23
“I need a beach day.  I need to lounge on white sand overlooking rolling blue waves and feel the sizzle of the sun on my body.  We set out for Santa Maria, the eastern playas of Havana on one of the many Habana Tour buses we hop on and off of and, disembarking at the Tropicoco stop, were confronted with the beach version of the Cuban tourist industry.  In a country where the economy is based largely on tourism, everything is structured around both catering to and relieving foreigners of the almighty tourist dollar.  Even at the beach industry buzzes.  There are rows of loungers and umbrellas and a host of men to attend them.  It costs CUCs for the chairs, for the shade, for the drinks, and for the service and there is no way around it.  If you can get there as a tourist, Cuba has already installed a whole system of charging you for it.  Fighting is useless.  You can’t battle an entire country’s economy just for a free beach lounger.  It’s not worth the strain.  At some point in the vacation I made my peace with this.  I figured out the inescapable fact about how things run and a sort of resignation settled in.  The peace with the system made the beach very pleasant indeed.  Once you give in you don’t mind having your own man to adjust your chair, bring you drinks, and arrange an amazing beach lunch of shrimp, potatoes, and rice on real china.  Give in.  Enjoy.”

Playa Santa Maria, Havana, Cuba Where the beach chairs were carefully tended and the water was warmer than a bath. 

Playa Santa Maria, Havana, Cuba

Where the beach chairs were carefully tended and the water was warmer than a bath. 

“There is a dark blue stripe between the ocean and the sky where the distant darker waters lay.  So the panorama is an impossible perfection of teal, royal, and sky blues, like a painting.  The palms arc gracefully overhead and the sand is cream and white.  Hermoso.  Beautiful.  Ideal.”

 

- Corinne Simpson