I am holding back the urge to begin this post with “walking down the dusty dirt roads of …”. It does seem that this cliché holds true for me when it comes to traveling in other countries. I am always, drawn to musty places and dirt while fumbling my way around a new country. I’m sure this is not uncommon amongst many travelers. There is something about a dry dirt road that eases ones body into unfamiliar surroundings. Relaxing.
So yes, I had completely convinced myself that the following particular memory took place on a dusty street in Trinidad, Cuba. Romanticizing was never an element of any agenda I may or may not have had in mind but that’s the way it happens sometimes. Through an Internet image search I decided to check up on my minds ability to replace one image for another and cobblestone streets is what I found.
Ahhhh yes, I DO remember it now because my bike was bumping along those obscurely tiled roads. My friend Todd and I had just arrived in Trinidad by bike. For most of our time in Cuba we’d been using bikes to get from one town to the next and eventually we found ourselves in the world heritage site of Trinidad; historical buildings with crumbling facades. The air of revolution having long faded away into the grain of concrete surfaces and patterns made by chipped paint.
We both locked up our bikes on a street that led right into a town square. On the barren shelves of a convenience store we managed to find our daily staple, a little bread and a little cheese. This was not a tourist shop and the ritzy enclaves found in Havana for those ‘doing Cuba’ on a package were nowhere to be seen. As travelers we agree to pay double the cost with our Cuban dollars. In Cuba there are two currencies and tourists are only allowed to use one, which is worth more. The number on the price tag remained the same no matter what.
Ambling along I spot a gorgeous poster on the back wall of an unassuming but large store. I drag Tod in.
There are stacks and stacks of posters made during and after the revolution. These ones were all for movies. I wanted to buy ten but knew it was only practical to purchase two of my favorites. I settled upon a poster for a Cuban documentary called Rita designed by René Azcuy and a poster for Cuban movie Retrato de Teresa. The design for this movie was, according to the Center for Cuban Studies in New York, the only poster done by Cuban artist Servando Cabrera Moreno. The chalky feel of each poster suggested that it could have been printed with gauche. Graphic flattened out colour popped out of each surface delighting the eye through each intriguing design.
I left with two little pieces of history rolled up carefully, protected by a flimsy plastic bag and strapped down to my bicycle. Both are now mounted and hopefully preserved for sometime to come. Every time I look at them I only wish I could have collected a few more prints. But I know that many other stories are sure to gather with each discovery and each meander through that shop.