Campañerang Cuba Goes Home

Dear Elly G,

I feel a strange kind of sadness at having to leave. I say strange because I’ve never been one for the beach, much preferring lakes or rivers and waterfalls instead. But somehow and someway, this pastel unicorn fart of a beachscape has found a way to sink its claws into me, deep enough for me to want to prolong my stay. Or break my self imposed rules, and come back.

I thought I knew beaches, having grown up surrounded by so many, I took them for granted. To be fair, I’ve never been to Boracay, or Palawan, but I have been to Dauin, and Antulang, and to Bantayan island, which boast beaches with pristine white sand and clear blue waters.

I went in the water on Saturday, in the early hours of the morning, when the sun had just risen. The beach was still relatively free of resort-goers. Just me and a handful of people out to score prime real estate under selected palapas, because apparently these things go fast and the earlier you mark your territory with a beach towel, the better. That didn’t really matter to me, since I wasn’t going to be at the beach the whole day anyway. The water is surprisingly warm, the sand like powder under my feet. Surprising, because the last time I was in this part of the world, the water was ice cold. Was it because it was in September and Punta Cana is on the Atlantic, while Cuba shares some of its waters with the Gulf of Mexico? I don’t know. Whatever it was, it was warm and inviting and as I waded in, it was like entering a fantasy. Chos. I know, hyperbole and a half, but I swear I don’t think I ever had quite an experience like that in any body of water whatsoever.

For a while it was just me floating on my back in suspended animation. The feeling of weightlessness was almost sensual, water lapping against the sides of my face and enveloping my body in a caress as I stared up at a sky the colour of a faded bruise tinged with shades of pink and yellow, freewheeling pelicans cutting in and out of my line of sight. It’s been some time since I’ve felt weightless like that. Shut up, it’s not because I’m fat. It’s just that I haven’t really been in pools, or the beach for a long time. I’m not a water baby like you, but in that moment I understood the reasons people return to Cuba over and over again. If you could have a beach like that in your backyard, it would be worth it.

And so I felt sad. The view from my suite was spectacular, exactly what I wanted, nothing but a stretch of blue. To know that I will have to go back and have a completely different view, of high-rises and cranes and so much snow, makes me sad somehow. Of course I miss A a ton, and I miss all the comforts of home, but somehow I wasn’t ready to let go quite yet.

I think this trip has done me good. I believe I might make it a thing, to escape winter for a few days every year, because now I feel like I may be able to see the rest of winter through on my return, without feeling the need to scrape the wall with my fingernails. I don’t know if I want to come back to this particular resort, or even Cuba, if only because variety is the spice of life, but I think a lot of sun in the bleak midwinter definitely did me a world of good.

Waiting for the shuttle,
Nikka

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