The Cuban “Paquete Semanal”
Female Skaters in Cuba
“Necessity always leads to invention”
We stripped off our clothing and started walking towards the water. The beach was covered in little blue balloons that looked like blown glass, or condoms, or something. As our feet touched the water, I shrieked: “¡¡Coño!! ¡¡Hace frío!!” The icy ocean startled my body, and I ran back out of the damp sand. My friend scampered back with me. Together we looked out at the water and I remembered the first time I went to the beach last semester when it felt like a warm bath. My friend saw the hesitation in my eye, and advised me to make my way running, “¡No! ¡Corriendo! ¡Corriendo! ¡Es la única ruta!”
He started to run, and I raced him in; the ice bath became warm once I dove into the heart of a giant oncoming wave. I popped my head up and laughed, swirling my body around in circles. I splashed my friend and jumped onto his back, pulling him into the next wave with me. Splashing and kicking and gasping for air, I realized he couldn’t swim. He stood up and laughed, telling me that no, he never learned. But he loves the water anyways –– the beach is always shallow enough to hold balance –– it’s irresistible.
As we tumbled around the waves, one giant swell pulled us to shore. As the sand reached our elbows I felt the most unpleasant burn on my arms, legs and stomach. I stood up as fast as I could only to realize that my friend was staring down at his arms as if a shark had bitten one of them off. ¿Y qué es eso? ¡Owww! ¡Zoe! ¡¿Qué es eso?! We were covered in slimy blue strings that remind me of those stretchy jelly toys I had as a kid that you smack up against a wall or ceiling to see if they stick. Shaking our limbs and peeling them off of our skin, jumping and spinning and jerking around on land, it might have looked like we were dancing happily in the sand.
Eventually we got them all off and sat down on the shore waiting for the burn to pass and the welts to disappear. I looked around at the little blue demons scattered about. The beach will eventually clear of them, but the ocean will not cease to contain them. It is filled with dangerous creatures and unpredictable weather. But it also holds beauty, strength, and endless mystery. Perhaps we were dancing.
I won’t sit and wait to see if the other sunbathers jump in, to see if it’s safe or fun or cool. To see how deep it is or how strong the waves are or if the jellyfish are in fact stinging. I will go in running, because that’s the only way. I am not afraid of the water. I am afraid to feel nothing. And I am afraid to look out and see nothing but blue. I can’t sit and watch the waves infinitely crash without knowing what it feels like to roll around in them.
-ZoKo, March 2015