What is Santería?

Been reading a lot of misconceptions on this topic. Would to like spread some light on this part of the Cuban culture. It is always good to know about cultures and religions around the world. First of all, I do not practice this culture rich religion nor am I promoting it. I’m just sharing what I know about santería being a Latino of African heritage. Can’t speak about everything in this post because that would take a few books. So bare with me to those who know a lot about this topic. I’m just summarizing it.

Santeros dancing photo courtesy of http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/religion-miscellaneous/difference-between-santeria-and-voodoo/

Santería in Latin America is actually very common. A lot of people who practice it now aren’t even hispanic nor of African heritage. This religion is a mixture of Roman Catholicism and Yoruban religions. It’s main language is Lucumí. Native to the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto rico. This language is like Latin to the Catholics and Arabic to Muslims. Lucumí is a langague mixed with west African words and Spanish. It has too many words and grammatical differences to be called a Spanish Creole. It’s a completely different tongue.

Santería store in the usa photo courtesy of http://pluralism.org/religions/afro-caribbean/afro-caribbean-traditions/santeria-the-lucumi-way/

While in Cuba, I did not want to get blessings from a Santero or santera nor wanted to film their ceremonies. I will explain my reasons later. Most people think Santería is about worshiping the devil. Which is one of the misconceptions. In santería, there’s actually no devil. It’s similar to Pre-Christian religions of the Vikings, Romans and Greeks. There are many gods, so it’s not monotheistic like Islam or Christianity.

Changó, The God of lighting photo courtesy of https://www.originalbotanica.com/blog/chango-shango-orisha-santeria/

The main figure of santería is Changó. Changó is the god of lightning, dance and manliness. The dances you see santeros practicing is to please and get blessings from this lighting god. That’s why the marital arts like capoeria and juego de maní focus mainly around dance. Since, Changó is of Yoruban origin. Which is now manly part of Nigeria. I will speak more about this in detail on another post. Since, I could write a whole book about this topic.

Map of where Yoruba is spoken in Africa photo courtesy of https://www.ucl.ac.uk/atlas/yoruba/introduction.html

So, the history of Santería is very interesting. This religion was created by slaves in order to hide the preservation of thier African culture from the Spanish. They used saints from the Catholic church to trick the Spanish into thinking they were practicing Christianity. The mixture of African religions with Catholicism was very common in the Portuguese and Spanish colonies. In the Spanish colonies, Santería was born.

A santera photo courtesy of https://yagbeonilu.com/santeria-rituales/

Being Hispanic of African heritage from the Caribbean, Santería and other African religions are commonly practiced. Some do it in hiding, others are very open about it. I don’t practice santería because I don’t want to bring spirits into my life. As you all can tell, my life is crazy already. Adding spirits will just complicate things. Also, be careful when going to santeros. You don’t always know their true intentions. They could be bringing negative spirits into your life.

Thank you so much for reading! Much love and safe travels everyone.

Check out our eBook “How to Travel for Dirt Cheap” by Hugo Morel for ways to make your dreams of traveling come true without breaking the bank. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07M848M47?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420&fbclid=IwAR0_mRF-eE9tODIshljVr7CQ8h6vKT6hHn_8gZfJ94DySY1ylPO2Itu2Qe

Finally arriving to Santiago De Cuba

After that stressful encounter and 3 hours of seeing the Cuban country side, I was in Santiago. Cuba’s second largest City. It felt good to have finally made it to my destination. There were times, I thought I was going to sleep in a Cuban jail. It’s crazy to think that was just a few hours ago.

Rooftop of my hostel photo courtesy of Hugo Morel

My first impression of the city was intetesting. It felt like any Latin American city for sure. However, there was a twist to it. The streets curved and zigzaged in a way that could make the most experienced traveler get lost. Also remember, wifi and internet connection here is limited. So google maps can’t help when you are confused in this maze of a city.

Another angle of the roof photo courtesy of Hugo Morel

I got to my hostel, we were all tired. Our local friend was annoyed that the address on the website was off. So, we had to park on the side of the street to call the owner. Everybody was cranky due to the 3 hour long drive. During those three hours, we were all worried about the goverment police having random check points. Which is common in Cuba. However, I should be fine since I’m American. Sadly, my new local friends could be in big trouble.

Sideshot of a buliding next to the hostel I was staying photo courtesy of Hugo Morel

I paid my local friend 15 dollars for helping me out. That extra pay could get him in trouble with the goverment. Someone who could be a police in normal clothing, could say that he ripped me off. Which Cuba punishes locals harshly. The guy saved me 120 dollars, giving him 15 dollars is the least I could do.

The eating area of the hostel I stay at photo courtesy of Hugo Morel

My local friend was giving me an inside view of Cuba. The not so friendly part. The part where it’s own people are valued less than the visiting tourists. Even with everything that has happened, I kept trying to keep positive.

Street just outside of the hostel, I was staying in photo courtesy of Hugo Morel

Eventually, the owner picked up his phone. Told us the exact address. We drove to his hostel and said our thanks/goodbyes to the taxi driver. The owner told me the house rules and showed me to my room. While my local friend waited outside, I settled into my room and took a shower. I was getting ready to meet another friend before his performance. After cleaning up, I step outside of the hostel. I couldn’t wait to see what this beautiful and exotic city has to offer. It was time to explore Santiago de Cuba!

Check out our eBook “How to Travel for Dirt Cheap” by Hugo Morel for ways to make your dreams of traveling come true without breaking the bank. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07M848M47?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420&fbclid=IwAR0_mRF-eE9tODIshljVr7CQ8h6vKT6hHn_8gZfJ94DySY1ylPO2Itu2Qe

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