I’m not entirely sure where I first stumbled across Fusterlandia. It was most assuredly online somewhere, and immediately my interest was peaked. For a while now, I’ve been so intrigued by large scale, outdoor art spaces. Traveling the United States, I’ve been fortunate to encounter a number of them: Leonard Knight’s Salvation Mountain, Joe Minter’s African Village in America, Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden, Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers, to name a few.
For a passerby to accurately attempt to summarize Cuba would be fool hearted. It’s a complicated country with many layers that requires a deeper understanding of events current and past. “Why are things the way they are,” is a question that I often found myself asking. Why are there two currencies? Where are all of the advertisements? Why are all of the classic cars still in use? Why haven’t I been able to come here until now?
For most Americans, Cuba has been thought of as an unattainable destination that floats a mere 90 miles south of the United States. Undoubtedly this has enhanced its allure and luster, especially for the American traveler. With policy changes between the two countries, there is a misguided notion that one needs to come here before things change. What does that even mean? I am guilty of uttering this sentiment prior to departure, and I’m still better trying to understand it.
The idea of a switch being flipped in which things are suddenly Americanized, is a misstep of the American paradigm. With no doubt, the relationship between the two countries is storied, and things are in fact, changing. With recent and upcoming elections, things do feel in many ways, in a state of flux. What will happen in 5 years? 10 years? No one can say for certain.
You should visit Cuba not for the fear of missing out on a time gone by; rather, you should visit Cuba because it is a country that is in possession of a vibe unlike anywhere else. It’s a vibe that runs deep; in the people, in the landscape, and in the way of life. It’s something that has to be experienced first hand. The only crime being committed is not allowing yourself to arrive here sooner, rather than later.
What is it about those first steps onto soil that your feet have never met? That feeling of the familiar unknown, ever so distant in grasp. The rush of stimuli that overtakes your being; sounds, sights, smells. The moment of pause, when you realize that through a series of events, you have arrived; you are here.
For me, the vision of what a place might be is always slightly out of focus leading into a trip. It’s this abstract concept that floats around my mind. I can look at any number of guides, or photos, but it isn’t until I am there, that I begin to have the most neophyte of understandings as to where exactly I’ve landed.
It’s quite an intoxicating and disarming feeling to suddenly be immersed in a world much unlike your own. The experience lends itself to thoughts and ideas that otherwise remain inaccessible. Try hard as one might, these moments can not be replicated, or reproduced. When you find it, relish in it.
A reminder that through departure, arrival is granted.