After a delayed departure from the Manzanillo airport, due to my temporarilly A.W.O.L. bicycle, the All-Girl Posse was finally on the road to Club Amigo Marea del Portillo, Cuba, where we expected to hang out, have fun and perhaps enjoy a few benign adventures.
Less than an hour into our journey, however, the bus broke down. So, there we were, more than half way to the resort but too far away to walk, and it's not advisable to hitch-hike, en masse, with a pile of suitcases. We were, for all practical purposes, in the middle of nowhere, on a scorching hot afternoon, completely unacclimatized and exhausted from flying out of Toronto at some too-early hour.
Most of us had had little sleep the night before, and we'd missed lunch. Tired, hungry tourists quickly get restless, then grumpy, when they have to stand by the side of a road, even if the scenery is lovely.
In the shade of a nearby tree, a small collection of children watched us with mild curiosity. They must have been thinking: why the heck are these white folks standing in sun? We observed each other stagnantly, shuffling our feet on our own sides of the road. Then – click! – I thought of Frisbees.
I asked the bus driver to help me pull my bike box out of the cargo bay. I ripped open a corner and wormed my hand inside, eagerly retrieving a Frisbee. I marched up the hill to the children and tossed the bright disk towards them. With some hesitation, one of them picked it up and awkwardly threw it back to me. Game on! They quickly learned how to properly hold and pitch a Frisbee, and were soon whipping it back and forth, giggling with glee.
Some of my fellow passengers grabbed their cameras and recorded the action. Others dug into their suitcases and pulled out school supplies and other gifts. The ice had been broken. They now felt free to interact with the children and the other people at the two small, clean houses beside the road. The children brought us fruit and I shared my secret stash of granola bars. It wasn't loaves and fishes but it helped to tide us over and keep us entertained. People relaxed and smiled. Puppies were cuddled. A Frisbee found a new home.
Later on in our trip, I had another opportunity to introduce the fine art of Frisbee fetching to another group. During a very pleasant day trip known as the "River Tour," I pulled out a Frisbee and got some of the amigas to play while we waded in the water. Several of the women who were our hosts gamely joined in but, at one point, the Frisbee sailed past the intended catcher and landed in the current.
Since I was wearing my sturdy, toe-protecting Keen sport sandals, I unabashedly dashed after it, diving into the drink and body surfing in a vain attempt to overtake the free-floating Frisbee. When the river rounded a bend, however, I galloped through the shallows, cut off the corner and got ahead of the rogue toy. Then I jumped back into the deeper water and managed to grab the frisky disk at long last.
I tossed it, one last time, to the woman who lived there, at the little farm beside the river. She smiled and immediately began using it to serve fruit.
This blog's title means "Cuban-hearted woman" (very loosely translated!). I settled on this name because it had a nice ring to my unschooled ear and, more importantly, because I think the Cuban people seem to have so much heart, and they're in my heart for that reason. In general, the people I've met in Cuba are quite consistently open-hearted and big-hearted in the way they relate to each other or to visitors in their beautiful land. A piece of my heart now resides in Cuba, with the warm, wonderful friends I've made there. This blog is not intended to be a guide to Cuba, just a forum for my eclectic bits of writing – poetry, opinion pieces and information gleaned from my personal experience and reading.