Back from Cuba
In the Spring issue of N16, Metal Crumble’s Roger Taylor reported on the progress of his charity walk across Cuba. Here, he concludes the story.
Well I’m back on this island, and now at last have clear distance between me and that island... Cuba. Only now can I really begin to put all the pieces together: ninety-seven days and around 1200 miles, a callus on the tip of every toe, and at the end of it all a fullness so immense that it was impossible to separate the moments.
I feel like I’ve plodded, trudged, tramped and, in the better moments, walked across and through the very soul of Cuba, and inhindsightitwasglorious. The pace of the journey let me absorb things so slowly that I was often able to say to myself ‘Ah, no, I’ll think about that in a few days time... or whenever!’ Such luxury, utter luxury: time stretching to accommodate me, not me squeezing to ﬁt in time.
Shooting stars and shared glasses of coffee, water and rum, and country voices, unseen in the tall sugar cane or reeds, yet ringing clear to us in our silent approach. Country girls and women singing alone beside houses... and how they sang. At times, my tiny tent was almost a prison yet, when I could fit myself and all my possessions in a tent six feet long and two and a half feet wide, well, in some way I knew I was a rich man.
The last part of the walk was physically the easiest stretch. We were strong, and this was the valleyed, hummocked surreal green of spring in the west: the tobacco lands. Each night I would accept a freshly rolled ‘criollo’ or countryside cigar – moist, mild and aromatic – and sit smoking beside the tents, talking, listening and smoking, then lying down upon that rich red soil with the smooth bitter honey of tobacco on my lips.
Cubans, like everyone, have their dreams, yet, for the time being, all dreams are on hold, and the Cubans stand and wait for transport, each one knowing that somehow their fate lies not with themselves but, cruelly, within the hands of another country.
I’mstillcollectingmysponsorshipmoneyandwill,onmynextvisittoCuba,presentittotheHospital Trust on the Isla de la Juventud. You can sponsor me at Metal Crumble, 13 Stoke Newington Church Street, N16. To Church Street shopkeepers: I’m coming round to see you all, and not to ask for a glass of water...