Last Tango in Havana

by Danielle Robles

Havana is unlike anything else. You can feel it pretty much the moment you step off the plane — walking down the landing dock into the quaint airport; being whisked away by a vintage American car in mint condition; samba music blaring, palm trees swishing by as you inhale the humid air.

It’s a land of contradictions. Ornate embellishments adorn desolate buildings. Palettes vary from candy-colored hues to pastels that fade to grey and then bleed into one another. The city is blanketed by vivacious graffiti that simultaneously relays revolution and sentiments of freedom and hope.

It’s a place where live music blasts from every restaurant down a busy street, calling for passersby to stop in and partake in the party. Where mojitos are cheap and strong and people are never not dancing.

The local boys are completely magical. Earnest and hopeful, chock-full of untapped talent. I could tell by the inquisitive looks on their faces that they are intrigued by the meeting of foreigners. Especially from New York. We sit barefoot on a rooftop overlooking the city and share tales of wanting to move the world. Even from an ocean away the kindred nature of our spirits still mesh in a way that feels like fate.

It saddens me to think that travel to this incredible island may no longer be a possibility for me (as an American) — though I am beyond thankful for my brief tryst with such a place. I still sometimes find myself lost inside that world — of contradictions, of magic, of music, of rum. I might not physically reside in Cuba — but a piece of my heart will always belong to Havana.

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