Sketches of Cuba 2018

I got to visit Cuba for the fourth time last week; it is a beautiful country, its people so warm, friendly and hardworking, and it’s so very different from our life here in North America. I took some mental notes on the bus ride back to the airport:





Sketches of Cuba 2018

University-educated bus guide,

fluent in four languages,

entertaining with his dry sense of humour;

is he happy?

horse and buggy carrying uniformed girls to school;

boy pumping water using an ancient hand pump;

powdery sand stretching to infinity,

outlining the turquoise ocean;

bright splotches of yellow popping out of the green;

signs of Irma,

uprooted trees, missing roof tiles;

cinderblock homes,

windows shuttered up, blocking the heat – no glass?

men, the same vintage as their bicycles,

pedalling down dirt lanes – s-l-o-w-l-y,

sniffing dogs trailing along behind;

bamboo fields

and neat rows of green

meandering up hillsides toward distant mountains;

people chatting in corner cafés – not Tim Horton’s,

waiting, for what?

Time stands still.

Jan L. Coates

  12 comments for “Sketches of Cuba 2018

  1. February 26, 2018 at 11:11 am

    You just need to illustrate this and you have a picture book!!

    • March 1, 2018 at 7:51 am

      In my dreams, but thanks, Darlene:)

  2. February 27, 2018 at 8:51 am

    So glad you had a good trip. Hopefully we’ll get together for coffee soon.

    • March 1, 2018 at 7:52 am

      Yup, maybe next week? We leave on the 11th …

  3. mirkabreen
    February 27, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    To the suggestion that there’s a picture book there, I was thinking more like a novel for adults. i love these notes.

    • March 1, 2018 at 7:53 am

      Thanks for reading, Mirka – there is something to be said for simpler times, but I do wonder what would happen if Cuba opened its doors, and the people were able to come and go freely.

  4. February 27, 2018 at 10:10 pm


    • March 1, 2018 at 7:53 am

      Thanks for stopping by, Vijaya!

  5. February 27, 2018 at 11:45 pm

    I would call this list/note-to-self “free verse”. Poetic language, word choice and line arrangement create poignant images of life in Cuba. Beautifully captured, Jan.

    • March 1, 2018 at 7:54 am

      Thanks so much, Peggy – I have written things in free verse occasionally; it’s an interesting challenge to paint those pictures and tell those stories in so few words. I like reading free verse novels, too, but always find they seem too short …

  6. February 28, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    Very evocative description of your trip. There is something to be said about a simpler way of life.

    • March 1, 2018 at 7:56 am

      Totally agree, Dave – although I do enjoy having running water:)

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