Food Time Capsule

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Hello everybody, I know I am writing as a food editor, or at least I usually write about food, but sometimes I have to write also about places I have been because soon or later it will be related to food. What do you think of this little preface? Did I set you or myself up for something not related to food for this article? Yes, I did and I hope you will be OK with it.

I am going to write about a place I just visited and liked a lot, even though I have some mixed feelings about it.

I have traveled quite a bit, but I have never traveled backwards…. into the past. This fantasy land is smaller than the state of Pennsylvania and covers 44,200 square miles. Yes, you have to fly there and once you land, you are on a different timeline. This place will grab you from the time you put your feet on the ground and will not let go until well after you come home. There is a welcoming feeling to the place not only due to the people, but by the surrounding colorful buildings, the many (mostly modern) murals –I am not talking about graffiti –. Many colors surround you. The architecture is like a landscape burst of colors. One building could be green and the one next to it is yellow. It all fits! Most of the renovated buildings are now museums – for example, music, art, education, history and the like. We drove outside the main city for about two and a half hours, admiring the two most popular crops that were growing on the sides of the 8 lane motorway. We arrived to a charming town where the neoclassic buildings stole our attention. Once you realized that the streets are just as fascinating as the buildings, you just start walking and looking at everything your eyes can focus on. Again, colors were the background of life here too. People were actually using bicycles for transportation for shopping or to give a ride to a friend. A cool sunny day helped us appreciate our visit to this charming town.

On the road again, to go to another town about one hour from where we were. Cobblestone streets were the norm and somewhat difficult to navigate if you didn’t have the right shoes. All 10 of us did. The colors here were a little softer, and the town is situated between a mountain range and the sea. Music was flowing out from windows and balconies just as it was in the previous town.

At the beginning of the article, I said something about having mixing feelings about the place where I was. The feeling is not a bad feeling, more like sadness because of what I have, what I can get, where I live…and the people here cannot. YET! I am pretty sure the citizens here are used to what they have and how their lives evolve. Change will be here soon enough but I hope it will be gradual so this population doesn’t lose the human touch that seems to be a big part of their lives, at least at the moment. I feel bad, not sorry, about the conditions of a lot of buildings knowing that people actually live in those spaces. And they are crowded spaces. On the other end, the medical care is available, free and good. And so is education – they have the reputation of the second highest literacy rate in the world!

There is very little private enterprise but you can see that this change is on a fast track. There are quite a few paladares- private homes turned into restaurants- and there are also quite a few of what you would call B&B’s ….private homes that rent out a few rooms for the night and will serve you breakfast in the morning.

I guess I can talk a little about food, because I promised I will do it. It is ok, not OK. Raw cabbage as a salad; red beans and rice is a staple, and shredded anything is pretty much on the dinner menu. Oh yes, there is also fish…..and plantains. OK, I will have to mention the Rum and the Mojitos and the cars of 1950’s and 1960’s. I know if I mentioned the old cars, you would have guessed right way were I was.

I would think that by now you figured it out that I just got back from La Habana, Cienfuegos and Trinidad. We were in Cuba for 7 days and enjoyed it immensely. As a matter of fact, it was an experience not to be forgotten.

I wish the Cuban people lots of success, strength and the perseverance to follow through with their openness to the world.