Cuba #4 / Pork & Sausage Jambalaya

I realize that Cuba posts could probably go on forever but I really should get a good rant back on here soon. Seems when I don't have this outlet I snap at a poor 50 something men in Khakis that's trying to be funny. So y'all bear with me for a couple more and then it's back to the overly bitter sarcastic Jolie.

I spent days exploring Trinidad, Cuba. Walking aimlessly through the streets hoping to get away from the tourist congested areas. I was extremely successful. Once you get away from the tourists you actually see Cuba. The houses are falling apart but the culture isn't. All the men sitting outside are having heated discussions about who knows what. Songbirds hang in windows while children play made up games with rocks. Elderly men and women sit at their windows just watching the world go by.

Through all of this, I happened upon this church that made me feel I had stepped back in time and then the ultimate discovery right beyond that church. A rooster led me there. The first time I followed a man and it was a nice surprise. I'm not sure why but this roaster sparked my interest. He was a pretty regal motherfucker. He finally stops in front of a tiny white building with a reflective window. Most people would have moved on by this time. Well, not this lady. I had a mirror reflection and a rooster, it was time to dance. As I'm bopping along trying to get Mr. Rooster to jam with me a head pops out from the door. Seems that was at a security shack and I had been performing for a solo audience. He did have an appreciative smile on his face as I scurried away trying to escape quickly from my shame. The rooster did not follow, just like that the romance was over.

In front of me was a flight of rock steps leading to a statue. As reached the peak I saw why my feathered friend had led me there. In front of me were green hills speckled with brightly colored cottages all with the ocean as their background. Horses came sauntering by and a man in fresh white uniform approached.

He knows I don't belong here. My ability to stress over situations that have not yet happened guarantees my international spy career will never take off. With a bright smile, he goes to say something and before he gets one word out I blurt out " No Habla ingles" and turn on my heels and head down the hill. That's right the very American looking white woman just yelled I don't speak English at a Cuban gentleman. I may not have done much in Cuba but I did give these gentlemen a story. Imagine how the after-work drinks went. Guard- "Today a strange woman danced with a rooster in front of my window and then ran away"

Valet- " Hmm I wonder if it's the same one that yelled I don't speak English in very bad Spanish at me and then ran away"

What would have happened if I had kept my cool? Would I've been invited to sit at the bar with the ocean views? Meet some handsome stranger looking for a lifelong travel companion? Probably not. A more likely scenario would have been me trying to find something that fit $8.00 a day budget. Sitting at the bar sipping my Cuban Coke while ever wearing my “teacher on recess duty” face until I felt so uncomfortable I made a hasty exit. 

While beautiful I knew that wasn't my place. Not in a sad or self-pity way I just feel more comfortable in a place with a little grime. 

Not all my walks were solo. A couple with a small group of us that also posses the exploring the periphery urge. On one of these walks, we happened upon the sweetest Cuban lady you ever did see. Sitting in the doorway of a rundown house making hats. She had these hands that I couldn't stop watching. These beautiful hands that showed the life she had lived, weaving that straw hat as easy as she breathed. She smiled and invited us in, who says no to a Maw-Maw? Not this lady. Hats hung all over taking up all available space except for this little corner. There stood an old action figure set up as an altar. This was the first time I was pained that I couldn't ask her what that was. She flew around putting hats on our heads with the grin never wavering. One of those souls that you can't not smile around. I had no idea what she was saying but it all sounded wonderful. I am now the proud owner of a purple straw hat and the mental image of what It would be like to have a Cuban Maw-Maw. 

Our nights consisted of meeting for dinner at one of the two restaurants that the group agreed on and the nightclub La Trova. While I sat there sipping my smuggled wine and slowly eating my budget-friendly cup of soup I couldn't help to think I need to do something different. I had no idea what going off the beaten path was soon to bring to this ever-changing story that is Cuba. 

Jambalaya Recipe
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