The colours of Cuba are a palette of vibrant pastels faded under the Caribbean sun, maybe a metaphor for the country itself. Sorbet hues of tropical ocean inspired green-blues and blue-greens shine alongside blushing pinks, terracotta oranges and mellow yellows.
Cuban culture is no doubt colourful, however while admiring this seemingly idyllic, multi-hued haven – it pays to keep in mind the inconvenient truth. The rainbow of the Trinidad streetscape is not simply artistic charm, but also the result of locals not having access to the same paint colour twice. The artists peddling their work in the street or their studio, may not have had access to new paint brushes for years. In fact, it was an artist that made me realize that my standard answer for why I was visiting Cuba – “I wanted to beat the first McDonalds” – sounded utterly selfish and insensitive when heard through a local’s ear. If I thought about it some more, this wasn’t at all the reason I was visiting Cuba, but merely the reason for the timing of my visit. Cuba has long been on my bucket list because I wanted to experience the culture and landscape; to take a salsa class; and visit the birthplace of one of my lifelong heroes.
Therefore, I encourage you to enjoy the colours of Cuba with a critical eye. Before getting lost in the romantic nostalgia of vintage cars and crumbling buildings, pause for those who don’t have the luxury of “new” and pay respect to the incredible resilience and innovation that it takes to live in this environment every day and not just as a passing traveller.
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