It was a scorching hot morning on the Eastern side of the Island. I was set to perform in a few hours at the Cultural African Center of Fernando Ortiz. My excitement woke me up before everyone else (as usual). The son was just rising as if I accidentally disturbed it’s sleep. I reviewed my paper and practiced in the mirror quietly as nervousness was slowly creeping in. I decided to take a quick walk around the block and ease my mind. The streets were near empty compared to the usual multitude of Cubans hanging out.
As I came across more people, I become fascinated about their stories. I saw yet another Cuban mechanic working on his car. I saw families hanging out playing dominoes. I saw children so calm and collective that I couldn’t help but to notice a keen sense of maturity. The buildings even told a story as they seemed to hold secrets of Cuban history. I was taken away by the streets of Santiago de Cuba.
I snapped myself out of this trance that Santiago de Cuba had me in. I started to head back as water was now a necessity. I was highly confident that I was getting familiarized with this area. I decided to take a short cut as I went through a back alley. I knew my business partner was waiting so I was in a rush. I started noticing more people appearing. However, I kept thinking to myself that the hostel was around the corner. That corner was not Heredia street. I began to panic as I looked for something familiar. At this point, there were people everywhere. I became lost in the crowd and now feared that I would miss my performance.
Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco.
I began to sweat so much that my forehead shined like Mr. Clean. I finally started asking for directions but the winding streets and hills made it impossible for me to find the right street. I took a deep breath and started pondering what I was going to do. I suddenly remembered an app on my phone that serves as an offline map called Maps.me. This app was a true lifesaver. Finally, I was heading in the right direction. I power walked and made it back to the hostel 10 minutes before the taxi was suppose to arrive. However, I noticed my business partner Mr. Air Miles, Hugo, was no where to be found. Little did I know that this was just the beginning of a long journey.
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