Before our group left Baracoa, our Cuban friends hosted a party for us with great food and Havana Club rum. Just as it was getting dark and the moon was making its stories on the ocean, two guitarists began playing lovely tunes. Some of us even did a few salsa steps, being careful not to fall into the nearby pool. Goodbyes are always difficult, especially when you are not certain if you will be back again.  But Cuba works its charm on everyone, and at this moment some of my friends from the tour are already making their way back on a bird watching trip.  Here in Minnesota, I have the memories of Baracoa and my photos to remind me I was there.

On days like today, when the glare of the white snow makes my eyes sting and it seems that the garden will be crushed to death by the weight of the ice that rests on top, I like to remember Cuba.  Looking outside my window at the brilliant blue sky, I can fool myself for a moment about where I am.

As we ended our evening in Baracoa when it was close to midnight, suddenly the guitarists began to play the wonderful Beatles song, “Let it Be.” CLICK HERE.  And our voices, English and Spanish, magically blended together to harmonize on the words. And for a moment, in the darkness, and surrounded by friends, we all believed that “There will be an answer, let it be.”

The Polymetia snail is only found in Baracoa, Cuba, and is now endangered because of how it has been hoarded for its beauty in jewelry. The “Sabanas Blancas (white sheet) Project originated in Baracoa.  In 2002 I first found out about the Polymetia snail when I bought a postcard with a photo of one like the one above.  I was smitten.  I kept my passion to see these snails in person which I was able to do in January of this year.  I could never have anticipated that on my first morning in Baracoa I would walk into the town square to see this sabanas blancas with a painting of the polymetia on it hanging from the 3rd floor of this apartment building.  This very sheet now decorates the wall in my bedroom and I am happy to say I got to meet the artist as well as the many other artists of Baracoa who offered us friendship and hospitality during our stay.  Many thanks to my fine Cuban friends.  One of our projects was to bring clean, white sheets to the Baracoa artist community.  I would hope, in future days, that an exhibit of sabanas blancas with Cuban art would tour around some cities here in the U.S. In Baracoa we toured the location where these snails live on the trees.  On that particular day my camera was back in my room (HOW does that happen?  arrrrgh), so I give thanks to my good friends Mary Kallough and Nico Kaminski for their kindness in sending me their photos.  Truly, these snails are magnificent creatures as they carry these heavy shells on their backs, reaching out with their long velvet bodies to climb around.  They seemed to resonate an intelligence to me with their exquisite feelers.

Here is a link to a great video about them. .