I discovered a new song the other day, “Dejame Así” by Maite Hontele. Adding that to three other songs that cycle through my ears on a regular, I now have an official Cuba playlist.
Oh right, you have no clue what any of this means, do you? I’m going to Cuba next year … for three months.
Let me back up a bit more.
When the lease on my apartment expires March 3rd, I plan to become a Colombian nomad. Too much goes on in the country that I’mmissing because of unnecessary ties. Without the overhead of an apartment and the utilities and other bills that accompany it, enough money frees from my budget to travel Colombia and even work in an overseas excursion, i.e. Cuba.
Here’s the preliminary itinerary: two months in Manizales (forever my sentimental Colombian home because it’swhere this Colombian adventure started); then Cuba (for a dance festival in June and an intensive exploration of Afro-Latin culture and salsa [maybe link to the festival?]); Then return to Colombia and hang out in Cali and the Pacific region for the rest of the year. The festivals in Cali around Christmas reportedly rock. But I won’t just be party hopping. This is a boots-on-the-ground study of the African diaspora and the confluence of culture in all of these locales. Ialready have the perfect guide for my time in Cali and the Colombian Pacific region. See my YouTube video interview with Danna Rendón.
Cuba, Culture and Salsa
Cuba has intrigued me for years. Again, the diaspora, the African culture that anecdotal research tells me remains virtually unchanged from the original source. Then there’s the salsa. Folks have always told me my style of dancing salsa seems Cuban. Next year will be my trial by marimba.
Bachata, Tango and New Places to Explore
For 2020 the plan is to spend three months each in Bogotá, Barranquilla and Cartagena, and for my foreign expedition, three months in the Dominican Republic … dancing Bachata. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
2021 is a long way off, but Buenos Aires came to mind for me to work on my tango. Getting down there on a motorcycle would be a blast too! Well now I’m really getting ahead of myself.
You get the idea of how I come up with my travel plans.
Colombian Nomad Theme Songs – “Cuba Isla Bella” (Cuba, Beautiful Island)
Back to the Maite Hontele song. “Dejame así” and the other songs on my list evoke the flavor of Cuba in my mind. (At least what the perceived flavor of Cuba. I’ll let you know once I’m there.) I I am called to Cuba not just because of videos I’ve seen. The music itself has touched me deep inside. In “Dejame así,” the melody seduces. The Orishas’ song “Cuba Isla Bella” is a complete, entrancing package of melody, lyrics and powerful voices singing and rapping. Orishas recount their homesickness for Cuba and distinct elements that to them mean home: “smiles that hang from the balcony door,” for example. Orishas are Cuban and left their island home to rap around the world (I saw them perform in Barcelona when I lived there). The name they’ve chosen for themselves, gods originally worshipped as part of Yoruba (African!) religious beliefs, speaks to those exact elements I wish to explore when I visit: how the diaspora lives in this 21stcentury; the connections we feel to places that form a part of us, even if we have never been to those places. Orishas paint such a vivid and powerful image of the place. Can, someone can miss a place never before visited? That is what they, and the other songs on my list, make me feel, nostalgia and connection.
All four of these songs play on my phone, on my computer, in my head constantly. They push me closer and closer to the island. May 8,2019 is my presently-scheduled date of departure.
I’m giving up my apartment and a lot of my stuff (see earlier blog post, “Why So Much Stuff”) to become a Colombian, sort of, nomad. The idea of exploring my adoptive home more deeply and discovering whatever else tickles my dancing fancy and captivates my intellectual curiosity overpowers the urge to acquire stuff and be anchored in one place. By the end of this rebirth, I’ll bean expert in the confluence of culture. And a better dancer!
Colombian Nomad Playlist (In order of discovery)
“Nochecito” – Maite Hontele
“Es Tu Mirada” – Leoni Torres
“Cuba Isla Bella” – Orishas
“Dejame Asi” – Maite Hontele