Trip Start Jan 16, 2007
Trip End Mar 01, 2007

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Saturday, March 10, 2007

The city has been hostage to winter in our absence. Daffodils normally past prime by the beginning of March still haven't opened. Crocuses and snowdrops are about to bloom a month late. It's unfamiliar weather for Victoria, and my body isn't used to it either. But the larger curiosities are the first experiences back in Canada. The supermarket seems like a Las Vegas casino after the stores in Cuba. Cars are everywhere. For days we luxuriate in the simple acts of drinking from the tap and bathing the kids without worrying about water in their mouths. I'd never thought such simple things could give me such pleasure.

Our lives drift back towards the ordinary. Our return flights have crushed our immune systems and it is a month before the whole family is healthy at the same time. Through it all, I transcribe my travel journal and gaze at the photographs. They make me feel homesick, in a way. I'm reminded of the writings of naturalist Thomas Barbour. A year before his death in 1946, he published his wonderful and melancholic A Naturalist in Cuba, which captures "the smell of smoke at dawn" and the flowering trees "brought into their first flush of splendor by the rains of springtime."

"I opened my eyes and then closed them again, to see in memory once more the opalescent light which suffuses the cane fields at dawn -- that extraordinary lighting up in the early morning, whose beauty is matched in the tropics by the equally short period of waning light at evening. I saw the mist lying over the valley and then the waxing power of the sun; the glitter and the shimmer which is in the air at midday, and the hushing of the birds.

"Why do I care, why do I have a strange feeling of sadness which is very difficult to shake off and which is simply because the realization is just a bit overwhelming that I shall probably never see Cuba again? I wonder what there is about the place that makes me feel this way."
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