Fellow blogger ThatTravelLadyInHerShoes has created a challenge called Just One Person from Around the World to profile a person met during our travels. It’s a great concept. Many times, it’s the people that I meet that make my trip memorable.
Like the fellow I met on a countryside path in remote Cuba. A group of us had been traveling by horse buggy on the road to Chivirico. Someone spied horses watering on a river bank and had the idea to stop our cab and take pictures. Scrambling off the rocky road and climbing down into the ravine took longer than we thought and by the time we arrived, the caballos had left. All was not lost however. One of our guides struck up a conversation with a local passerby and he offered to take us to his village and show us around.
The gentlemen was very distinguished. With his proud bearing and olive green fatigues, I easily believed him to be a old revolutionary. In fact, when I said he looked like a young Fidel Castro he was quite pleased. So pleased that he invited us into his home.
Like other homes I’d visited in Cuba, his was a humble abode. The main building was reserved for sleeping quarters while an airy room at the back served as living, dining and work space. In this room were the tools and accoutrements of the village seamstress and beautician.
A collection on one table caught my eye. When I asked about it, both my guide and host hesitated to reply. The guide whispered something about santería and the host said something about los ninos. It’s time like these that I wished I’d remembered more of my school girl Spanish. I would have asked why he was apologizing to the boy in the photo, someone who I gathered hadn’t survived and for whom the altar was a memorial. He ended by saying that he didn’t practise that (santería) anymore.
Later, I showed the picture to one of my Cuban hosts. He thought that it looked like a primitive altar in the santería tradition. He explained that the religion was complex and integral to Cuba’s history. Indeed it’s not been an easy topic to research. So far, my best resource has been this article. Santería is an African diasporic religion, brought to Cuba by West African slaves and is a confluence of native beliefs and Christianity. The name “Santería” refers to the correspondence between Yoruba deities called orishas and Roman Catholic saints (santos). Contemporary practitioners refer to the tradition as “the religion of the orishas.”
I hope you enjoyed this snapshot of someone from another part of the world. I look forward to reading other people’s stories. Blogger CaddyLuck Leedy says that she’ll update her site on Wednesday with links to other Just One Person stories. I’m planning to check it out. Maybe you should too!
Photos taken in Cuba, 2018