I’ve gone south/(re)turning/stretching borders /with my/hips//in–rhythm
As I write, I’m driving through the countryside of Cuba, passing fields of caña and palm trees and shaded mountains with coffee, through what were some of the first plantations in this “New” World that already very much existed before the ships arrived, but is also made new each day.
This is a return. Una vuelta.
I am halfway through my time here. I spent the first week on a program organized with PlazaCuba immersed in popular and folkloric dance traditions with some of the leading companies in Havana, including Ban Rarrá and Raizes Profundas. I am thankful that my experience in Cuba began with and through the body. In the turning and listening and following of salsa, rumba, and son. In the rhythms of the Orishas and the diversity and connection of traditions created in through the exchanges between Yoruba, Congo, Dahomey, Voudou as African, Spanish and later Haitians and Jamaicans found there way in this world of islands.
I am now beginning the second part of my journey, heading to Esmeralda, Camaguey, the town where my grandfather was born, as I explore migration and multiracial identity in the America’s via my family’s story in Jamaica, Cuba and the USA. I am carrying questions and wishes from the generations that came from this land but have never seen it and from my grandfather who left at 14 and carried Cuba in his heart, giving it to his children and grandchildren through his stories.
I continue to follow and weave the strings of ancestry, migration, racial identity and cultural heritage that have guided me thus far. I continue to dance because I have to. I continue to be caught by the arms of the universe in the form of friends who guide my next step.
I am halfway through my trip and my head, heart, body and soul are full. I have no complete thoughts or thorough reflections so for now I offer some rough cuts from my time thus far.
Besos y abrazos