I’ll Follow the Sun

Winter 2013. It’s not really a hardship compared to the thirtysomething odd winters of my lifetime past. No, my problems with this winter are entirely mental. And it’s not depression. I simply want out. I am full of energy and ready to start but winter laughs at my impatience. “You will wait until I am good and ready. Sucker.

Today I am a caged animal. I’m howling and shaking the bars and smashing my feeble and pale, vitamin D deficient body at this winter prison. Friends of ours are headed to Cuba next week, and even though I once proclaimed that I would, “…sooner poke my eyeballs out of my head than stroll the beaches of the resort nightmare that is Varadero,” I still begged them to take me. And I would go. I would travel inside a large box and I would dance and stumble and shake across those beaches cackling like a madwoman.

Let’s look at some pictures I took on trips to Guama and Santiago de Cuba in winters past and pretend that we are there. Let’s imagine that there is a warm breeze that smells like jasmine and burning cane fields with a touch of plastic. We can feel the vitamin D surging through our skin as it comes back to life. And we are laughing and dancing; losing and then finding our minds in the sunshine.

His rooster’s name is Pico.

We had been driving around for hours on a Chinese scooter, dodging potholes as deep as small lakes on a hot, dusty, and deserted country road, when we found this hidden beach. We traded bars of good, organic chocolate that we’d brought from home for the best fresh fruit I have ever had in my life. The chocolate had turned to liquid in the heat but the children lapped at the paper enthusiastically and when it was done they played a game that involved throwing beach trash into the waves and waiting for it to come up. I took a quick dip in the tumultuous ocean and my feet sank into the sand like it was sponge toffee.


We rode poor, under-nourished, female horses called “Pinkies”up into the mountains to visit a small waterfall and I vowed to never ride a horse again.

We had to turn our scooter back from here or risk running out of gas in the middle of nowhere. The grasses were golden.

Rooftop plants in the city.

A glorious, prickly opuntia.

Humanity is our homeland.

I have plenty more photos (and stories) of our trips to Cuba here and here, and there are countless more on my computer and unscanned film that I hope to post someday…

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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13 thoughts on “I’ll Follow the Sun

  1. Wonderful pictures. I felt warmer just looking at all the greenery :) But so sign of newer cars. That gold one in the older photos looks like a Chevrolet form the early 50′s with a snazzed up paint job.

  2. I can feel your pain as I am in the same shoes. Why is it still here when Feb is going to end, I can’t understand. The wind is so chilly that there is absolutely no sign of spring anywhere.

  3. Oh, I’ve been feeling this way for two weeks now. I just… it seems like winter should be OVER, now, even though I don’t usually quite feel that so strongly this early in the year. What is it about 2013?

    I bought Drinking the Summer Garden and Grow Great Grub on my Kindle this morning. I guess reading and planning and dreaming is almost(?) as good(?) as actually being out there(??????). Sigh.

  4. I thought I heard some howls this week from the direction of slightly farther north. So it was you, huh?

    Me, I made BBQ Baked Lentils (in the oven, in my shut-up-tight-against-the-cold house) to make the place at least smell like summer. Fool the nose and the mouth with the summery smell/taste of barbecue sauce.

  5. The grass is always greener…I sit here at 5.30am in Tasmania Australia, cringing about the amount of water I am going to have to expel from my hose just to keep my vegetable garden alive today. The winds have come and joined the extended heat of summer and after the bushfires all of the animals are crowding around what is left of my poor long suffering parched arid garden to take their pick of the sepia toned leave that are curled up like old 70′s photo’s. Their footprints are left in the silty dry dust “Look Steve, a grey kangaroo!”…sigh… all “I” want is some rain…a good solid day of it should give the garden enough impetus to stay alive for the rest of February…the sun will shine today and it will be raining in my heart and I, too, will want to hop a flight to Cuba but for entirely different reasons…

  6. We were lucky to have a mild weekend the culminated in a warm, sunny afternoon today! Daffodils and the first cherry trees are blooming, and we spent some time in a little brewery courtyard soaking it all up. I opened up the row covers to let the pants enjoy some extra sun, too. Hope your sneak peaks of spring aren’t too far off!

  7. as someone who would never survive in a humid hot place, thank you for posting these. My poor vitamin D deficient body and my snow-blind eyes are craving scenes like this…
    Thank you for the wonderful photo summary of a day in Cuba. I bet those kids remember the chocolate very much too!

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