From Cuba, With Love…

Aiming to reconnect with authentic sensuality during the unabashed month of love is almost guaranteed to get the sparks flying in your direction no matter what your heart’s desire.
Text by Francesca Cruz | June 7, 2018 | Lifestyle

Settled comfortably at a table overlooking El Malecón, the crash of waves as my welcome committee, a salty sensual breeze caressing my excitement — café con leche to my right and pencil & paper as my witness — I write this article.
I’m in Cuba, a fitting place to contemplate love, loss, ideals, passion and all things Valentine. Nestled at the famed Hotel Nacional that sits atop a cliff with a panoramic view of the city, my eyes veraciously take in everything they can — I want to visually swallow it whole, make it mine, take it with me.
From inception, as I know many born in Miami of Cuban parents [or any second generation of the banished] might sympathize with, I’ve been bewitched and enchanted by a place I’ve known mostly via my family’s nostalgia. Memory + Ache = Nostalgia. One of the many post-effects brought on by the 1959 coup d’état.
This place is magic bottled up in a time capsule that was tossed off to sea. Being here feels like the first stages of falling in love, or rekindling a tryst with a favored lover; and even with the scarcity of basic needs, sensuality and sexuality walk upright from their usual horizontal lounging pose. It has everything to do with it being an island, the folklore of the place, and the sensation that something’s always brewing just beneath the cobblestone. I’m a bit fond of this delirium.
The senses are alert, excited, electric and ready to make love or brawl on this island. Allowing me to easily eavesdrop on conversations going on all around me; one being that of a young French couple in a tête-à-tête over Hemingway and his escapades between Paris and Cuba.
And then, as usual when in search of inspiration, of fodder for my next journalistic move…it hits me! Yesssss, Ernest Hemingway! What an example of virile masculine energy combined with creativity, passion, freedom and adventure. Is that not what love should feel like? Should we not find inspiration in that, and hope to instill it in others? To be brimming with tales of daring crusades. To meet individuals that are alluring, mysterious and passionate. Heck, I’m turned on right now just thinking of the possibilities.
Masculine energy finding feminine energy; and don’t get me wrong, this article isn’t specific to any gender. I have no interest in being politically correct. What I’m trying to express is that in today’s society even falling in love has become technical, prepackaged and deliberate. Where are the Hemingways of today, and those exhilarating, rip-roaring and delicious women that walked the earth during his time?
Where can we find an Ava Gardner nowadays? With her pure southern tobacco road drawl, lustful innate saunter and striking beauty. Those gals that walked like a feline, and carried themselves like a woman; they understood the power of being ultra-feminine, witty and charming. They were anything but afraid of being vulnerable, delicate and sensual. And yet, they could play hardball with the best of them. These ladies had no interest in competing with men, as if they were men. Where’s the fun in that?
Today, we have it all wrong. For example, when it comes to men, more often than not, they are leaning far too close to the metrosexual grey area. Too consumed with the perfectly tailored look and the flexed selfie for Instagram, rather than going out there and conquering the world and experiencing life. In the case of women, we’ve kept all the steel and left out the magnolia.
It was while swimming naked in Hemingway’s pool at the Finca Vigia in Cuba that Gardner was referred to by the author as the most beautiful animal in the world. While the bikini was still a daring novelty in the mid- to late-’40s, Gardner was skinny-dipping in pools at dusk. It came naturally to her. And is that not one of the most attractive qualities and individual could have, authenticity?
She was raw and real, and she wouldn’t be tamed, a harmonious balance between the feminine psyche and the animal impulse. She brought men like Frank Sinatra to his knees while other girls where happy to be wooed and dumped by old blue eyes. He courted Gardner for months and months and she would not relent. She made him earn her, and men love to earn things in life. It’s how they are wired. Women nowadays seem to be the ones doing all the pursing, completely squashing the male’s instinctive need to hunt.
We’ve become such a consumer society, more interested in expensive ornaments to adorn us, caught up more in people-pleasing than in being genuine, or curious about the world around us. What happened to being compassionate, a good listener, present in the moment, and (for goodness sake) learning to engage in a solid conversation? Part of falling in love is the delightful dance of attraction and seduction. We’ve lost a lot of that. We want things “drive-thru quick”, with immediate satisfaction.
So this Valentine Day, I ask that you contemplate owning your authentic self. Returning to what it feels like to be a woman: to be tender, feminine, and sensual. And for a man, to reconnect with his venturesome, intrepid, dangerous and masculine energy — somewhere along the way, the lines got blurred (and not the Thicke & Pharrell ‘awesome kinda blurred’), but it’s never too late to find our internal Ava Gardner and Ernest Hemingway. It could just make all the difference.