A Rite of Passage – Quinceañera in Cuba

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If you have spent any length of time in a Latin country or South Florida for that matter, it is no secret that the most important day in any Latin girl’s teenage years is her Quinceañera. We all have these rites of passages whether yours is a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, a Walkabout, graduation, or other. In fact, I bet you have a bunch of wedding invitations and other save the dates for events on your fridge as you read this.  These are milestones is all of our lives. And, I was fortunate enough to be passing through Trinidad, Cuba earlier this month just at the right time and right place to get a sneak peek and photos of a couple Quinceañeras that were amidst preparations.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the Quinceañera or Quince for short, it is a rite of passage from childhood to young womanhood celebrated in most Latin countries and communities. It is typically a family and friend gathering were the honored young lady is dressed to the nines and participates in a formal dance with her Quince court of couples usually young cousins, siblings, and friends followed by a meal, gifts, and more dancing. I guess it would be similar to a Sweet Sixteen in the States, but in all of my thirty-something years (ok creeping close to forty years) in the US, I haven’t seen Sweet Sixteen party preparation, assembly of a court, or dresses like those I viewed only a few weeks ago while visiting Cuba.

Along my visit, I was privy to witness photo sessions of beautiful young fourteen-year-old ladies dressed like starlets with hair, make-up, and gowns.  After inquiring when and where the party would be, I found out that they were only getting ready to send out invitations to their Quince festivities.  So in essence, I was only viewing the dress rehearsal of the must attend and be seen event of the year. It was like Trinidad’s red carpet.

Quinceanera at Manaca IznagaThe various backgrounds for the photos whether the historical Palacio Cantero (featured at the top of the post) or beside an iconic bell tower (view from tower below) were carefully chosen to highlight the young lady and her hometown; however, every girl reading this knows that it was also to showcase her moment in “the” gown. Most of the dresses were very lavish and princess-like with ruffles, bright colors, and layers upon layers of crinoline. With the mid-80 degree heat and humidity, I could only imagine that it was mighty hot and sweaty as I was hot in my summer capris, t-shirt, and hat. (I caught these two pictured above tired, hot, and ready to pack up.)

Ms Traveling Pants at top of bell tower at Manaca Iznaga CubaAlthough, when I travel, I’m a light packer with a hat always in tow for a bad travel hair day (every day), I know that the price and pain for beauty is tremendous. Yes, I, too, have been known to pay the price and pain for beauty. I have worn some shoes to impress, which still haunt my feet with little scars. I chose to dance in them instead of just sitting and looking pretty in them.  Then, there’s the pilates reformer (aka medieval torture apparatus). And, let’s not forget about waxing. Ouch! However, inside all of us ladies, we want to be a princess, queen, supermodel, or in my case a czar.

To all the lovely ladies that I had the opportunity to see and talk with in Cuba, I wish you a lifetime of good times and good stories.  I look forward to your adventures.

Here’s to more good times and good stories. Stay tuned to future adventures by connecting with me on FacebookTwitter, Google+, and YouTube.

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