Cuba: Swallowed by the Sea

cuba, varadero, beach    That was a good night sleep, I was so cold though. I snuggled up next to Tanya just to get more warmth. It’s 10am and our taxi is waiting for us. Mitchell is quiet, and also very polite. He drives us to Varadero. Cuatro palmas is a gorgeous beach. I noticed there were way more tourist around, I guess the resort explained it. The loud speaker was playing some salsa and when I turned around there was an instructor teaching older folks how to dance. Varadero became a fashionable beach for the wealthy, after Castro took power in 1959, the area was opened up to all kinds of people.
The girls went straight to the water. Olivia in her red two piece was being cheeky, and every time a guy passed her they made sure to turn around and look at her butt. I wanted to catch up on some writing, I stayed on the sand and typed away. There may be no internet here, but my iPad came along with me, so I would be able to draw and write on my leisure. The sun was beaming and I was so glad I decided to wear a huge floppy hat.
    When I finally made it in the water, my good mood was ruined in a few moments. My brand new underwater camera was swallowed by the sea. I was and still am so upset. All I could do was pout, I didn’t want to see the water any longer.
We roamed around Varadero City, and enjoy the view while riding on a trolley that was being guided by a beautiful horse named Caramelo. He dropped us off at the market and we all kind of went crazy with souvenirs. The vendors were sweet, and were all trying to make their money. Adonis one of the vendors kept flirting with me and asked if I wanted to try some of his coffee. Que rico.

One of my favorite shots, school girls in the street. They reminded me of a “Spice Girls” in training kinda vibe.

I told myself that I wasn’t going to go crazy with souvenirs… I lied to myself. I fell in love with a cute little baby girl dress that I bought for Harlie, and I purchased an original Cuban all white suit for Amaury…. my future nephew. I saw a gorgeous dress that I’m still debating if I should keep for myself or give to my mother. It’s a nice orange ombré crochet dress.I purchased a small knick knack that holds a small bottle of rum for my dad, but there was this hammock, a one seater hammock swing kinda thing that was crocheted. I fell in love at first I just had to have it. It’s going to look so wonderful in my mother’s backyard. I have no idea how I’m going to pack it, but it’s going to get done.

We hopped on an old school 20’s Ford, I loved the mixture of the neon pinks, green and yellows together. Our next stop, Las Cuevas Saturno. According to the locals this cave has a spring that many enter because of its youth regenerating abilities. We grab some food first, and my dish, rice and beans with pork was only 3 CUCs. Super cheap. I lost the girls for a few and went in anyway. I walk down the steps and the view is gorgeous. The cave was old, dingy yet beautiful. I’m snapping away and some guy comes to speak to me.
“Hola, pero tu si eres bella.” (Hello, but you sure are beautiful.)
I thank him and he tells me his name is Tony. I ask if he’s visiting and he tells me no, he’s cuban.
“Y tu esposo?” (Where’s your husband?)
“No estoy casada.” (I’m not married)
“O, y entonces, tienes novio?” (Oh, in that case do you have a boyfriend?)
“No, y no quiero uno tampoco.” (No, and I don’t want one either.)

He invites me go dancing with tonight and I politely decline. The girls finally spot me and make they’re way down the steps. Tanya passes him and he’s already trying to flirt with her too. I laugh and ignore it.
    I meet the lifeguard, Joé, who guides me into the water. I warn him that I don’t know how to swim and he assures me that I’ll be okay. He leads me into the shallow end of the fountain and I step on the rocks that lead me towards the middle. The girls are already on the other side of the cave. The water is a stunning blue, almost turquoise. The water is so cold, and I do my best to suck it up. It’s now or never and I go underwater…
My curls are ready to make an appearance on this trip. Tanya swims back to me, and tells me she wants me to go on the other side. Um, no… I’m so scared. I don’t know how to swim and I keep screaming it. She’s like ” just grab on to me!” ” Don’t let me drown.!” was my response. I grabbed on to her and she swam towards the elephant shaped rocks.

Joe was sitting on another rock that facing us and was snapping away. I noticed the tour group that was there with us, was now gone. We had the place to ourselves, all while doing our little photo shoot. The life guard was telling us how to pose, and kept calling us mermaids the whole time.
After our swim, Mitchell our taxi driver was waiting for us to pick us up. I was starving. I was tired. All that water and sun today exhausted my body. We got back to Dona Edita, the name of our Airbnb, we washed up, scrubbing away all the sand from our bodies. Amelia de el Mar was a cute little restaurant that we managed to walk into. We were trying to find food, and almost everything was closed at 8:30pm. We walked into the supermarket called “La Sirenita” (The Little Mermaid), who recommended the restaurant.
The outdoor seating area was packed, figures since there was almost nothing open. She sat us in a tiny room with another couple. We were pretty loud, I felt bad… Okay, let me rephrase that.. Tanya was pretty loud. She blames it on her being Puerto Rican and a New Yorker. The girls were talking up a storm but I was in another world. All I wanted to do was lay down. The food arrived, and it wasn’t the best. Olivia hated her spaghetti, according to her it was bland out of the can tomato cream, with grated cheese that wasn’t even melted. She was upset. I ordered the same thing except with shrimp… I ended up just adding the shrimp on the pizza I also got myself. Tanya liked her garlic shrimp with moro, and is already wanting to come back to this restaurant tomorrow. After eating my plate I was ready to lay down. I let the girls keep talking and I walked myself home. I watched the rest of my downloaded episodes of Celia on Netflix, and fell asleep before I could l finish the last five minutes of my novela.

Winds and a Registry, a Calm Labor Day

Mami kept insisting we cancel our plans for Labor Day. Originally we were going to Lake Welch, but with rumors and warnings about Hurricane Hermine, she insisted on us being safe. A beach is safer right?  I know, I know i’s not, but we wanted to do something, and since the winds were a little calmer we decided it was a go.

We woke up early and headed 45 minutes into Connecticut, we arrived at Sherwood Island State Park. I cannot exaggerate enough when I say, we had the ENTIRE beach to ourselves. I can only imagine how Coney Island or Orchard beach must be right now. We were isolated. This is the closest I’ll probably ever feel to having an island to myself. (You know, unless I win the lottery one day.)It was pretty chilly, especially since we were there so early. I was regretting not bringing a sweater with me, but someone decided to share with me, even though he was being a bit of a grouch. I laid the moon mats down,  and  got to relax. I covered myself up with the towel, and just closed my eyes. This weather would have been so perfect to just lay there with a book in hand. I opened my eyes for a quick second to see Kiki, Taimane, and Chris taking a well deserved nap as well. The only person awake was Jeremy, enjoying the view.Our lovely sun decided to make an appearance, and we all woke up when we felt the heat. Even though we weren’t planning on getting in the water ( and told Mami we wouldn’t, sorry ma!) We stripped own and jumped in. The water was pretty damn cold, I was shivering, but just like everything else in life, when you get used to it, it’s not that bad. Along with me came some floaties, the ones we used at The Blacklight Slide.The waves were perfect and kept pushing us around back and forth, and one point I was too caught up taking selfies and Kiki starts to scream out at me that I’m getting too far from shore. I didn’t even bother to test if my toes touched the bottom, I started  shuffling back the best that I could. Go me, for not panicking!Taimane looked cute with her little belly, just floating in the water, and the way that Kiki and T kept playing around with each other, I knew then that Harlie was going to be born with great parents. PS. I forgot to mention, the baby’s name will be Harlie Alexa, how pretty!)We left a little early and the parents to be had planned into going to Babies R’ Us to register for the baby shower. All the planning is coming into play and it was time to make a list of all the things that are needed for her arrival. Everyone wanted a chance at the scanning gun, and I was busy having baby fever, oohing and aahing all the cute tiny little things. Then I turned around to see Chris, this tall grown ass man, riding around the store in a little kid’s bike, like he was 6 years old, and realized…”Yeah, I’m over it!”
love, minxinx

Sweat, Bruises and Sand, an Unexpected Weekend

I had a list of things I wanted to do this weekend, ask me if  I did any of it.

There was a huge flower festival, a concert featuring Ginuwine, Kid n Play, Mack Wild and DJ Camilo that I was eager to see. That did not happen. Not even a little bit.

Sometimes the things you don’t plan,end up being greater than you expected. This weekend was  both great and terrible, all at the same time.

Let’s begin with Friday, After spending an evening listening to poetry, trying to do my best to bond with someone I truly care about. I came to the realization, that maybe I just need to stop forcing things. The universe throws signs at us in many different ways, ways that we tend to ignore. That day just happened to be my wake up call, if something is meant to happen, it takes more than one person to make it work. I just walked away, as much I knew I didn’t want to, I had to.
Time for me.

Saturday was a little better, that turned into way better. My not so baby cousin is 21 now. That only means he can do everything he was already doing, legally. Raymond and I are close, though we don’t get to spend much time together, he’s one of my favorite people to hug.
Instead of taking public transportation I decide that a 35 minute bike ride wasn’t that bad. It was about 10pm and I’ll admit, I was a little scared biking around some areas. Especially when men want to whistle at you, screaming “oooh, can I get ride?” I’ve even had a ” damn mami, how much?”
Sorry buddy, not for sale, and I’m not talking about the bike. I had a little detour on the count that I got lost. Keeping my phone, that acts like a GPS in my pocket isn’t very convenient. (I just purchased a a handle bar phone holder..much needed!)
I stopped by Titi Margaret’s house and caught up on bochinche. I miss my godmother, I have to remember to make more time for her. Especially since now I know how to get there on my 2 little wheels.
The party was loud, in a basement, that have me flashbacks from when I was in high school and friends used to throw hooky parties. The fact that everyone was younger helped that feeling as well. Non the less. I poured myself a drink and started to dance. To my surprise my baby cousin Denise was in town for the weekend. She came all the way from Massachusetts to spend time with Raymond on his day. So sweet. She was looking at beautiful as ever, and I couldn’t help but to tell her, that every single time she posts a new picture online, she resembles her late sister Jasmine, more and more.

We danced the night away, along with sweating the night away. That space felt like a sweat box, everyone was dripping, dancing, removing clothed little by little. Even my brother Kiki and Taimane came to show love. They were sitting most of the time and still managed to break a sweat. They made my night when they told me they want me to be the baby’s godmother. I wanted to cry! It’s all I seem to think about now.
I danced until I couldn’t dance any longer. By 3am the last song was played and everyone started to leave. The floor full of grit and black water. That’s going to be fun to clean up.
Alberto decided to hang around and be amazing with us. We were all sleeping over a Raymond’s, and everyone was either drunk, tipsy or had some form of hype in their system. They set up the hookah, and we kept cracking up at all the snaps from the night. All the twerking, kareoking, sipping, ratchetness that happened throughout the night.
Sunday, my plans for that concert were out the window. We were going to make it a beach day, but first we all had a few errands to run, especially since most of us didn’t plan on spending the night, and little old me had my bike. We headed to my house, Alberto, Denise and I. I was their map letting them know which bus to take where, while I rode home. It’s only a 15 minutes bike ride, something that’s light work compared to how much I can actually bike.

At an instance, all I felt was a car leaning towards the right hand side, where I was riding push me off and slam me into a parked car. I fell hard. The left side of my body was in pain, my bicycle flat on the floor underneath the parked car. I tried to wiggle it out but the rim was tucked into the car’s tire. The white Nissan slowed down, whoever was inside was obviously debating if they should stop. When it did, it took longer for someone to even come out. He didn’t even say a word, I asked him his name and he went in full defense mode. He didn’t even ask if I was okay. I’m up, there’s no sign of anything teared or scraped. Again, I ask him his name and I get nothing. If he doesn’t want to tell me, I’ll find out another way. I start taking pictures of his license plate, the registration on his window and he’s screaming “so call the cops then”
How ignorant. How unsympathetic. Reminded me of someone else I know… is that just all men?
I didn’t want to get the cops involved, I think i was fine, I felt a bruise forming on my left butt check, my right elbow throbbing, and a scrape burning on my right calf. I think I was okay, brushed up my okay… he starts screaming at me, “you didn’t fall, what do you want to do then,call the cops!” I’m telling him, without raising my voice, “I did fall, I fell hard, you can’t see it, but I’m in pain.” “You didn’t fall he says”
How can someone else tell you what you’re feeling, what happened to you or didn’t happen to you? Reminds me of another man of a dilemma I know.
I practically had to beg for an apology, that’s all I wanted. He wouldn’t give it to me. Another guy across the street comes over and asks me if I’m okay, I say yes I guess, but I’m hurting. Guy number 2 hears all the screaming Guy who hit me is saying and corrects him. “She did fall, I saw her, you hit her.” Only then is when he apologized.
Why does it take an outside person to validate what should of happened naturally? I tell him, I’m a human being, I know you’re scared, but look at the bigger picture. You didn’t see me fall but that doesn’t mean I didn’t. Just because I’m not bleeding, it doesn’t mean I’m not hurt. It did hurt. Badly.

What is it with men? The lack of communication and empathy. I’m sick of it.I trooped it home anyway. I had way too much adrenaline in my system, alongside a huge bruise on my ass. We had plans to head to the beach and how could I disappoint? I threw on my bathing suit, at least the ones I have left at home. Seems like they’re all disappearing  now a days. The trip to Far Rockaway was a little longer than expected. I’ve actually never gone by train before, I tried once a long time ago and got terribly lost. This time I found my way, even with a dying phone.

Raymond and friends were already on the sand. Some were making out, some were sipping on drinks. Denise and  I jumped into the water as soon as we got there. My curls needed some salt water. I just love how they look when it’s drench in it. D was telling me that I can actually buy salt water for my hair in beauty supplies stores. I never knew that. I’m sure it should probably be used in moderation. I don’t need my hair falling out.

We stayed the whole night at the beach, and let me tell you, the stars were beautiful. So much is going on with me right now, and it was the perfect time for me to relax and just take it all in. I have a lot of decisions to make soon and I don’t even know where to begin.

Hanging out with my two baby cousins (who are now full grown!) was way too much fun. I’ve been trying to convince Denise to spend more time in New York, now that she’s on break from college. Let’s see if it works.

As for now, it’s time for a long ride back home, and for me to soak in a nice hot bath. My body is too sore from that hit.love, m

 

Rays Before The Evolution

The sun is here to stay.

Before “The Evolution” showcase we all decided to soak up some rays. Though we didn’t stay long, we made sure to pack a few beers and dip our toes in the sand. I didn’t have the balls to jump in the water yet, it was a bit breezy, and the last thing I wanted to do was smell like salt at the show.

It was a nice little get a way while it lasted. I’m just glad I didn’t sweat my hair out!love, m

Brighton Beach Bums

Another one of those days that only the beach could help you recover from. It looked like it was going to rain, but the sun was making an appearance.

It was Cara’s birthday, one of Chris’s friends, and she was in the mood to soak up some rays with her friends. I invited Ashley to join me, in case I wanted to wander off and just let them be.  Finding parking was a bitch, but about an hour later, the sand on our toes was an instant relief.

Of course we snuck some beers, hiding from the beach police..well worth it.

I decided I did want to wander, and i just sat by the shore watching the waves go back and forth. As soon it hit 6pm the lifeguards were off duty, and I found  my new spot to sit in. I climbed on top of their stands and watched the sun set..absolutely beautiful.

Mermaid Parade 2015

Coney Island’s annual Mermaid Parade… I think this one might just be the best one yet. Ever since I gained knowledge about these festivities, I told myself I was going to come ever year. ( See the Parade from 2011, 2012, 2013 ) Originally we were supposed to arrive with a pack of people, but everyone ended up bailing because of the rain (that never showed) guess, it worked out for the better, because we had a great time!
The music was blasting, my hips were moving, the beers were being chugged, and the costumes were amazing. Chris was having fun looking at all the nude beauties that passed us by, while I just laughed and kept shaking my own ass.

When I got up this morning, I had every intention of keeping my outfit as simple and festive as possible. I love seeing everyone so dressed up dramatically, I personally feel like it would be too much for me. As much as  I love photographing others, I wouldn’t like to be stopped every 2 seconds. I want to be able to enjoy  myself.The board walk was everything… I love when my latinos get together, Chris grabbed to dance some salsa and when I get started, there’s no stopping me. I think we danced for 2 hours straight, just making new friends of all ages…and sea life.

I even got to dance with a merman, who was feeling himself and had some moves of his own.
I love roller-coasters, one thing I would never understand is why I get so freaked out when it comes to ferris-wheels. Maybe it’s because the way cart just swings back and forth..yikes!

Either way, I wasn’t going to say no.
Our day was exhausting, well worth it and memorable, check out this video from our day!

Santo Domingo: Day 1: Bendiciones

Omg, omg, omg… what the hell is all that banging that’s going on outside?! The light is peeking through the blinds and the studio is a mess. Chris and I take a quick look at each other and it’s like we both read each other’s mind. We jumped out of bed in a panic. “What time is it?”

10am…holy shit! We’re going to miss our flight!

We ran around the room like chickens with their heads cut off, trying to pack and not forget anything, keeping the space decent and clean for our host so it doesn’t look like we’re slobs. Rushing and getting ready, while constantly bumping into each other, so we can make it to our flight on time.

When we first arrived, we had to pick up the keys at the Chinos right below the condo, now that we’re leaving, it was pretty hectic to return the keys since they were closed. We didn’t have time for this. We ended up leaving the keys at the tiny restaurant next door with a waitress, texted our hostess and hoped for the best. We checked into the airport and made it right on time. Thank goodness… Santo Domingo, here we come!

Part 2 of our trip…. You thought we were going home didn’t you?

“Look for a cute, short blonde” That’s what I tell Chris after we picked up our baggage. My cousin Yenny was waiting for us at the gate with my cousin Franklin. I introduce Chris and everyone says their hellos. He seems to be hiding his spanish, I’m guessing it’ll make an appearance once he feels more comfortable. I explained to him that this is the first time I bring a boy to meet my family in Dominican Republic. He asks me if that’s a good thing. I don’t even have an answer to that yet. I will admit, I was a tiny bit nervous though.

We stopped at Boca Chica to get some food before heading home. Some pescado frito (fried Fish) and tostones. Amazing! i wasn’t even hungry, but my plate will tell you other wise. I warned Chris that while our stay here, he would never be without a beer in his hand when it comes to my family, and he’s slowly starting to realize that. With just a 30 minute ride to the infamous green house, we already had gone through about 3 jumbo Presidentes.

Bendiciones!

(a greeting used when saying hello in latin customs, you are asking for blessings from your'elders, they usually respond with " Dios te bendiga" which means, "may God bless you"

My abuela was in the kitchen cooking up a storm as usual. She looked great and I was happy to see her. I hopped into the shower and got ready to head out to see some cousins and my aunt and uncle. Everyone usually just hangs out in the front of the corner store with a beer in hand, music blasting in the background.

Whenever I see my Tio Netty, I get the instant flashback of Papi Neto, my abuelo. They look so alike to me, it’s mind boggling. Kisses on the cheek going back and forth, introductions were made to the neighborhood friends were done. Everyone here is so inviting….and always willing to fill up your cup with more beer.

My cousin Ernesto finally settled down with a girl, Katerine, so he was all smiles when he was showing off his new place. I’m so proud of him, and even better yet.. he looks so happy.