A&E Abroad: Havana nights

Fishermen row out to Havana Bay from the Malecon seawall in Cuba's capital for an evening of fishing. Fishermen such as these keep illegal seafood available in local restaurants. (Photo Courtesy of MCT/Photo by Erich Schlegel/Dallas Morning News) Fishermen row out to Havana Bay from the Malecon seawall in Cuba's capital for an evening of fishing. Fishermen such as these keep illegal seafood available in local restaurants. (Photo Courtesy of MCT/Photo by Erich Schlegel/Dallas Morning News)

A planned adventure can bring great happiness and enlightenment, but it's often a spontaneous interruption that truly leaves an impact.

Abbey Pellino, a global studies and sociology senior, knows this all too well.

On her last night in Havana with ASU's Semester at Sea program, Pellino had an experience that moved her mind, body and soul. At a local outdoor venue that hosted a farewell reception for the students, Pellino and her fellow travelers sipped Cuba Libres and enjoyed a local band's music. The band wove signature Latin flair into a variety of music that contained pop, rock and dance influences, Pellino said.

As the audience started getting up to dance, a light drizzle began to pour over the crowd. The band kept playing as if nothing was awry. Within minutes, the light drizzle became a steady downpour, and the band, which had prepared for the rain by setting up stage under a covering, played on.

Pellino describes her ensuing experience as "surreal." In spite of the pouring rain, a large group rushed onto the dance floor and let the music pump through them.

"The group seemed to melt together," Pellino said. "I felt alive in a way that words cannot describe. It was like falling in love while biking a steep downhill and tasting an exotic fruit for the first time."

Few people need to be convinced of the power of music and the beauty of dance, but when the two are experienced in the pouring rain in a foreign land, the effects are sublime.

As the night wound down, the group begged for an encore, to which the band happily obliged. Pellino's own words perfectly sum up the profundity of the experience.

"My heart ached as the final song ended, signaling our return to some semblance of reality," she said. "That night was magical. I'll never forget the music, the way our bodies moved as one and the pure bliss. Though I know there's no way to recreate such an experience, I hold it in my heart and use it as a motivation to always keep traveling, trying new things and exploring the world."

 

Tell the reporter your favorite salsa moves at celina.jimenez@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @lina_lauren

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