Cuban Lover

He wordlessly reached out his hand,

this t-shirt clad and quiet man,

as he led me gently to the floor

I couldn’t help but wonder

how exactly this would go,

whether he would or wouldn’t know

how to lead me through turns and twists and steps

and correctly dip me under.

My lies about love grew bold and loud

floating round my hair like a rain cloud

and when he pulled me into his stance

the cloud clapped angry thunder.

But in a moment still and clear

I looked at him and saw no fear

a gaze free of calculation

tore my lies asunder.

The steps we took at first were slow

till both were sure how it would go

and surer, surer still we stepped

till feeling just took over.

Soon enough the cloud had cleared,

my shoes had up and disappeared!

and onlookers to my laughing glow

would scarcely guess me sober!

Through spins and strides and turns and dips

of brightly swinging salsa hips

my unexpected gallant man

did lead and pause and hover.

The flush rose to my warming cheeks

as feet matched latin dips and peaks

and spanish sang out on the breeze

until the song was over.

My fluid partner, strong and true

kissed my hand and said “thank you”

and as he walked into the night

I shrank into familiar cover.

The choice was mine – I could resume

the lies that had foretold our gloom

or bask in the remaining glow

of my Cuban dance-floor lover.

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La Noche de Flor De Caña…

Can’t have us drunk AND armed no can we?

The night started around 9 p.m. First we woke up and got ready.  Sleep was sweet and I woke up slowly with a warm water bath bailed from a bucket.  There is running water, yes, but today it is freezing.  It comes and goes on the whims of the river in this city of Ceiba trees.  When it is flowing strong it is caught in barrels for the next time it goes.

We started the night, me, Bo and Myce, in a wide open-air restaurant next to a five-star hotel by the sea. The hotel was beautiful to behold and I was told with raised eyebrows that a night there would cost US$100 (SO EXPENSIVE Bushy!  and I’m thinking SOOOO CHEAP FOR FIVE STARS!  But this is La Ceiba).  La Palapa, our restaurant, had the air of a treehouse with two floors and an open air dance floor that people on the balconies above could look down into.  It was wet but cool and very pleasant.  The smell of the sea mixed with the rain in the air and the liquor of womens’ perfume.

There was a live band, eclectic with horns, maracas and keys and two male vocalists who transitioned perfectly from merengue to punta to bolero to bachata as the crowed willed them.  I am convinced that there are sounds that only a latino can make – a voice both grating and true to the note, more of brass than of woodwind.  One of the vocalists had such a voice.  The other was as smoothe as honey and flowed from one style to another in a way that would make a woman’s knees go week if only he was a bit taller.

The waitress took our orders of Flor de Caña and sprite (sin hielo?  You shooor??  Doble o sencilla?  Doble.  No prableng).  Flor de Caña, the Cane Flower, a rum made in Honduras and neighbouring Nicaragua.  Cane does not flower to the best of my knowledge, but it grows like a bamboo with sugar caked in its fibrous stalk.  The Flor de Caña is a mystical spirit, best on ice but carefully mixed for delicate stomachs this night.

We sat on chairs artfully made from the cross sections of very large trees.  Each seat had a different size and shape but they were heavy and strong.  We took photos with shining faces.

How alike our skins glowed from the Flor de Caña and the joy at being together in La Ceiba!  The honey of the blood of Europeans mixed with the exotic flavourings of our region is the colour of the golden rum.  We are just as fragrant as our rum, as passionate, as flammable as the Flor.  The air of the exotic wafts off our family as we pay our lempiras and leave.

On the way out I take photos of the sign.  It had me laughing when we came in.  “Prohbido ingresar con armas” prohibited to enter with arms.  Latinos are a passionate people.  It would be most unwise to have us drunk AND armed at the same time.

The rain has not stopped.  It is as though I have brought with me a deluge to La Ceiba that will continue until I leave.  La Zona Viva (the Live Zone) is alive and well tonight and we pass bars and clubs one after the other heaving with music and dancing people even in the rain.

Soon we arrive at Hibou, a massive nightclub.  It is beautiful and modern, more modern than any club I have been to in the Caribbean.  In fact I struggle to remember the last time I’ve been in a club this nice.  PERIOD.  Clubs in London came close in style and size but could not touch this music or ever come close to the beauty of the people, the women especially, moving to the rhythm.

We are early and get ourselves mas Flor.  The club fills quickly and with our first drink in Hibou in hand we three join a few scores of people on the lighted floor.  The floor is like a Michael Jackson video and I’m tickled pink about it here in La Ceiba.  Who would have thought?

The music also surprises me!  Music from Jamaica, Trinidad, South Beach, London, favourites of mine mixed in with new reggaeton.  The Caribbean meets Honduras in my veins and starts to dance.  For a few seconds it is just me and the music and then Bo comes into view.

I LOVE the latin sense of manhood.  That boy can dance!  And he’s not afraid to, not here, where everyone dances and self-expression is a virtue.  Not for the Hondureños the wall flower macho stance.  Everyone here moves well and with feeling, true latinos.  They don’t have the sharp macho edges of the Jamaicans nor the indian whine of the Trinis but move in smoothe curves, rico y suave.

I am sure we cramped Bo’s style.  His dutch father blessed him with an uncommon height that puts him a head above the others in La Ceiba automatically.  His mother Nena blessed him with a handsome face and eyes that laugh all by themselves.  Myce too has these eyes and they are dancing now.  We both danced with Bo, all three of us losing our voices one song at a time singing out loud to the music and powered by Flor de Caña.

Later, girls hungry for the teenaged Bo’s attention would ask if I was his girlfriend.  This made me laugh out loud – “Aii Bo… tengo diez años mas que tu mi amor.  Puedes decirlas que soy tu “sugar mama”!”  (Aiii Bo, I have ten years on you.  You can tell them I’m your sugar mama!)  But what a compliment!  To think I look young enough to be with a 19-year-old.  I still laugh to write this!

Baleadas de La Línea – 3 a.m. food

Myce and I tired around 3 a.m.  Or was it 4?  We made our way to a waiting taxi.  Bo waved his admirers goodnight and climbed into the front seat, closing the doors behind us sugar mamas.  Everyone was hungry and so we had the taxista pass by La Línea – the famous train tracks of La Ceiba – for baleadas.

In the near future I will have to write something special about the food.  I cannot do it justice in any other way but in its own post.

The baleadas were amazing this morning, with strips of beef and pieces of chicharon.  They were so good they were gone by the time we pulled into Nena’s gate.

Fiore let us in and told us how Monkey had cried until she’d been sick.  “Que rabia tiene esta muchacha!”  But before the story ended I was clean and sliding under my stallion blanket.  Fast asleep in a minute.