One of Makara Wear Team Members in
The Time Machine
I have an insatiable hunger. I want to take big bites out of life and its experiences. Every couple of months I get this feeling, this urge, like a tornado going through me and then I find myself buying a plane ticket.
This time it was Cuba.
I am a Molotov cocktail with a Latin fever. I love dancing. I love salsa and tango and when I say love, I mean love! I was born in Lithuania, speak broken Spanish and live in Los Angeles.
When I turned one year old, Lithuania became an independent country. I remember conversations my parents would have about the Soviet Union and how Communism was imposed on our people. They mostly spoke about how life used to be. Cuba interested me for these same reasons. It’s like a place out of time. It’s a place filled with salsa, colonial architecture, a fluid mix of socialism, communism, art, music but most of all, Cuba is its people.
Ocean, Rocks and a Sandy Bikini from Makara Wear
Life in Los Angeles is busy and moves at a rapid pace. It’s like the freeways are a metaphor for our lives: we hurry to get on, but once we’re on there’s traffic, distraction and we feel this need to hurry and get where we want to be. We forget about the journey, the adventure.
My time in Cuba changed things for me.
An island of Cuba made from keys at Fabrica de Arte. It’s a nightclub which is all about art.
Another World, This World
When we landed it was hot and humid. The air stuck to our faces, our clothes. Everything seemed to slow down. We waited two hours to get our luggage and another two hours to exchange our cash. Thanks to Makara Wear organic cotton clothing I didn’t faint from a heat stroke at the airport. It felt like another world.
I wanted to immerse myself in Cuba, to get an understanding for its people and culture. I needed to let go of any preconceived notions. I needed to open my mind and simply allow myself to be. I had gotten so used to my daily routine and usual comforts that I had forgotten what it was like to be a child. So I became a child, again and again, to experience Cuba with curiosity.
Daily life is so different! Take using the internet as an example. Cuban’s don’t have easy access to the internet. You have to pay $1.50 CUC ($1.50 US) for an internet card. The average salary in Havana is $25 per month. If you’re lucky the cards haven’t sold out and once you purchase one you have to go to a special location to use it. So I walked. A lot!
Organic Cotton Motor T-shirt for hot days in Old Havana.
What a difference from Los Angeles! We’re so busy sitting in traffic, working overtime for an apartment we can barely afford, zooming in and out of the grocery stores, doing laundry and other daily necessities that we’ve forgotten what it means to relax. We’ve mastered small talk and gossip. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in things that don’t bring us any fulfillment. Los Angeles is full of new and exciting events. So many that we have to pick and choose what we’re doing on our weekends. We’ve forgotten what it means to see one another – to be completely present with another person and be able to say, “I see you.”
Who has time to sit at a cafe and observe people for hours, like how the Cubans do in the Malecon (a promenade in Havana)? Who has time to go to your neighbor’s hours for coffee and conversation? I don’t even know my neighbors.
Cubans talk! On the streets, with their neighbors, at dinner. Socializing is a huge part of their daily life. And then there’s the kissing. I noticed couples kissing on the streets while I sat in the Malecon: on the cheeks as a greeting or in more intimate ways with their lovers. Life is less about chasing and more about relaxing and enjoying it, whether it’s sitting together, eating dinner or picking up their monthly allotment for food.
Wearing Turtle Neck One Piece Swimsuit in Varadero .
The Other Side of the Coin
There is extreme poverty in Cuba. There were a few areas where the prostitution was in your face, catering to tourists. There were no privately owned businesses, the money went to the government. Can you imagine that? I was there and it was difficult to understand! When life is like that what do we have? What’s important?
You see the answer on the streets, cafes and in the way Cubans interacted with each other. Mostly, you saw it in the way they dance. It was like my eyes were tricking me, I wasn’t able to believe what I was seeing. I dance salsa and how the Cubans danced was beyond me: it was sensual, present and vibrant. It was like they were taking things as they came and didn’t have any expectations outside of that moment. I was experiencing it, the life and flow of it surrounding me and I began to reflect on my life in Los Angeles and I realized why it was that when I had landed, Cuba seemed to move so slowly.
I spent hours speaking with locals. I think it was around 50 locals! I listened to viewpoints from people in different cities, hobbies, jobs, lives. It changed me. It’s like I was living in a spiral and finally returning to a point where I can grow and move forward. I learned that each of us live our own lives. Is there truly a better or a worse life? There are definite negatives that I observed in Cuba, yet they seemed so at ease, so alive even within what I believed were limiting circumstances.
Looking over Havana with Organic Cotton Maxi Dress.
And here we are in Los Angeles where life can be so big. We live in a land of giants and how often are we present with one another, how often do we share, like the Cubans, the most important thing in our lives: I’m talking about us, about our time, our energy, our attention.
The answer lay in acceptance. That’s why things seemed so slow when I disembarked from the plane. I was walking into a land that had accepted itself. Acceptance is not settling. Acceptance is saying to yourself, “This is who you are and where you’re at and what’s happening, so what are you going to do about it?”
It’s a wonderful world. If we can slow ourselves down, pause and stand at the end of Santa Monica Blvd, place our hands on the wood railing, close our eyes and let the sun bathe us with its wind and the ocean’s smell then we can begin to open ourselves to the simplicity of joy. If we allow ourselves to relax and share a deep conversation or dance with complete abandon we will no longer be afraid – we are relaxed and in doing so, are beautiful. Like Cubans, like us.
Written by: Kristina Maciukaite
Edited by: Juan Gabriel Magni