Before I head off to new places, I love to read a variety of fiction that is either set in my destination or was written by someone from the country. And when no time for reading, I listen to some local music. All of this sets the scene for me, gives me a feeling for the location and the people, prepares me for the local ambience and often sets some geographical or historical facts in my head.
Comparing what I read with what I see can be interesting. Our Man in Havana, a great character created by Graham Greene, escaped from the capital city and sat in Cienfuegos writing a fairly lengthy letter to his sister: “I am sitting by the bay in Cienfuegos … This must be one of the quietest ports in the world. Just the pink and yellow street and a few cantinas and the big chimney of a sugar refinery and at the end of a weed-grown path the Juan Belmonte.”
I first read this as dissatisfaction, but he moves on in his musings, talking about the light that is “wonderful just before the sun goes down: a long trickle of gold and the seabirds are dark patches on the pewter swell.”
The shot above is early morning, not evening, but the golden light on those old sea faring vessels won me over. This place had real character.
Copyright Debbie Smyth, 13 January 2017