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Horny Toad Goes to Cuba

kolson posted this September 19th, 2012

What do you wear on an all guys trip to Havana, Cuba?  Horny Toad clothing, of course.  HT model Jeff Bochsler, author of The Daily Intent blog and the ebook Be Multinational, is here to tell you all about it.

By Jeff Bochsler

Is there a foreign country or city in the world that evokes great curiosity for you?  Is there a place that, thanks to the lore passed along by friends, books and fellow travelers, seems to promise a truly unique travel experience?  For me that place was Havana, Cuba.

Havana was the Vegas before there was Vegas.  Mobsters and the über rich ran a black market show until Fidel Castro (aided by his brother Raul and infamous pal Che Guevara) led a socialist revolution in the late 1950s.  Havana is the city Ernest Hemingway famously fell in love with while sipping Mojitos from Hotel Ambos Mundos.  And it’s on an island that is strictly forbidden to American tourists thanks to the 1960 embargo sanctions brought forth after Cuba nationalized the properties of United States citizens and businesses.

Cuba remains one of the last remaining pure communist regimes – but things are changing.  Fidel Castro is getting on in years, his brother is running the show, the Americans who lost their land are beginning to pass away, and the United States is taking small steps to participate in the country’s well-being.  It’s possible that Cuba’s 54 year run as a communist nation might well be coming to an end.

From what I had seen and heard, today’s Havana seems to exist in a time capsule.  It’s not just the 1950s Fords and Chevys everywhere that offer a clue to its non-progressive political state, it’s the refreshingly sheltered, super-friendly people and the colorfully diverse architecture whose design suggests a world in which strip malls don’t exist.  The time for me to visit was immediate.  I wanted to get there before its preserved state changes dramatically.

And so it was.  In June, I set off with two good amigos to find fun and adventure in Havana, donning Horny Toad collared short-sleeves, hats, and even a pair of HT sample white pants.  What I discovered there was far deeper than I’d ever imagined.  Musically, culturally, politically, economically and gastronomically speaking the city asks one to constantly participate in both thoughtful reflection and outright play.

For example, the Argentine Tango is too slow for me and feels too stop-and-go without reason.  And the Brazilian Samba seems too chaotic and fast – I can’t seem to find the rhythm with either.  Yet, the Cuban / Colombian Salsa matches the beat of my heart.  It has everything: grace, sexuality, energy and consciousness.  The night I learned the dance, a small breeze came through the open air bar, my light Toad shirt worked every angle to keep me free and cool, and my feet and hips worked overtime to keep up with the dance instructor.

As well, a Cuban cigar has a macho effect on the ego while a Mojito sweetens the senses, reminiscent of the yin/yang effect a man’s better half has on the rest of his life.

And play, not the internet, is a huge part of Cubano’s life.  Kids are healthy and thinly powerful.  Baseball is played gloveless with makeshift bats and balls, in squares no larger than a baseball diamond, hammering line drives off the trees and adjacent buildings.  Some of the kids play while an equal number perch about the square, observing.

The billboards were constant reminders of a communist regime – there was not one business advertisement, only reminders of who was in charge and who was the reason for the citizens well-being.

While we originally set off to indulge in smooth cigars, a few glasses of Mojito and a day or two at the beach, we left with a much deeper understanding of ourselves and some questions about our place in the world.  We left with heads that were swirling in music and new ideas about happiness and the things we have versus the things we actually need.

 

One Response to “Horny Toad Goes to Cuba”

  1. Awesome buddy! K frankel

    by Keith frankel | September 23, 2012 at 9:40 pm