Havana, Cuba

50's Chevy!  Russian diesel power-train.

50’s Chevy! Russian diesel power-train…

After breakfast, we are all eager to get out and explore old Havana, founded in 1514, with a rich (and more recent) history known to varying degrees by all, and now designated as a UNESCO old Heritage site. An interesting “social experiment” notes a guide, having been a colonial country for 50 years, and then a booming capitalist country for 50 years, and for the most recent 50 years, one of the last remaining communist countries in the world.

blue bldg

vendors

Beautiful city, from a distance. Up close in dire need of (50 years of) deferred maintenance! Also, crowded - see creative home wiring here.

Beautiful city, from a distance. Up close in dire need of (50 years of) deferred maintenance! Also, crowded – see creative home wiring here.

We divide into three groups to explore this fascinating capital. The withdrawal of Soviet bloc support in the early 1990’s was economically devastating for Cuba, and many turned to “urban farming” to sustain themselves. One group explores the effects of this “Special Period”, the consequent food shortages, and the creative farming solutions. A second group visits the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and then visits the studio of local artist Jose Fuster. Art and culture are well supported in Cuba. Our last group spends an hour walking the old city, and then takes the ferry to the island of Regla, a suburb of Havana, and the center of the Santeria Religion in the area.

Santeria ceremony. Note chicken and pigeon.

Santeria ceremony. Note chicken and pigeon.

From Wikipedia: Santería is a system of beliefs that merges the Yoruba religion (which was brought to the New World by enslaved West Africans sent to the Caribbean to work on sugar plantations) with Roman Catholic and Native American traditions. These Africans carried with them various religious customs, including a trance for communicating with their ancestors and deities, animal sacrifice and sacred drumming and dance. In Cuba, this religious tradition evolved into what we now recognize as Santería. Fascinating.

Tired, we all return to the hotel to prepare for our festive farewell reception, which turns out to be a The World Less Traveled Social Club, complete with live music, dancers, and Amadito “Golden Sticks” Valdes, percussionist, from the actual Buena Vista Social Club. Tremendous.

Enjoying our end of trip slide show!

Enjoying our end of trip slide show!

dancersThe evening winds down with thank you’s from our tour leaders, gifts for our faculty (and the doctor ; ), and slow realization that our grand adventure is coming to an end. What a wonderful adventure it has been!

Thank you to our team: Ezster, Rob, Patty, and Emily.

Thank you to our team: Ezster, Rob, Patty, and Emily.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s