The february 2nd birthday of the sea goddess appproaches, and this nice offering was seen recently on our local beach.
Just after new year, we were fortunate to visit Cuba. What a fascinating place, and we had a memorable time. Knowing things are starting to change there, for some time we’ve wanted to see this country before the pace of change accelerates. I was only 12 in 1959 when Fidel Castro’s communist government took power after six years of armed revolutionary struggle, and so have little memory of that except that my parents were concerned and became very stressed, along with the rest of the world, as international tensions heightened in the leadup to the Bay of Pigs and the Russian/Cuban Missile crisis of the Kennedy era. As the economic blockades and sanctions tightened, Cuba became isolated from countries that were not communist, and the resulting isolation has had profound long term effects still highly apparent, so that arriving there today gives the visitor a strong sense of stepping back in time – much as we experienced when we first started coming to Uruguay just 4 years after the end of the last dictatorship here, only much more pronounced.
One fascinating thing we saw, which we might not have happened upon or understood without our guide, was a small group of people down at the water’s edge who were meeting with a shaman (green headgear) He conducted their offering ceremony to the water goddess. The blue shopping bag you can see on the river’s edge just in front of the lady with the white hat and shoes, contained the same corn, lentils and other grains, fruit, vegetables, fabric, bottle of scent and cheap glittery jewellry that form similar offerings here. We didn’t like to go close with our cameras, but stood back and watched them place things in the water and wash devotional objects including some fabric. From our guide it was quite clear that with some local differences, this is the same spiritual belief system – brought to the continent with the African slave trade from early in the C16.
Some day soon I’m going to re-listen to the recorded book (in english translation) of “Island Beneath The Sea’ by Isabel Allende, a fabulous story of the early plantation era of the caribbean islands including Haiti and Cuba.