Viva Cuba, La Maravilla del Caribe

Thursday, March 13, 2015 Today is the last day of our magical Cuban adventure. We begin the day at the Fine Arts Museum. Sorry, no pictures to show you. Photography is not allowed, presumably because the flashes might affect the paintings. The charming curator, Omar Diaz, gave us a detailed tour of the galleries, which was a visual lesson in the history of art in Cuba and all the phases it’s been through, including a phase with heavy European influence. At the end of the tour, Omar said he would be in Albuquerque to give a talk in the fall … Continue reading

Beach Bliss

Thursday, March 12, 2015 This morning we’re heading off to beaches of Santa Maria, a pristine stretch of ocean that managed to escape Batista’s plan for tourist development—saved by the revolution just in the nick of time. But will they remain “saved” after the corporate titans get their hands on these beaches now that trade restrictions have been lifted between the US and Cuba? We took the bus back to the hotel for a quick shower and change of clothes to prepare ourselves for our next treat. The evening was spent at the Palacio de la Rumba with a performance … Continue reading

Cuban Culture

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 Cuba’s University of Fine Arts is spread out over a 163 acre campus (66 hectares) that was a country club with golf courses for Havana’s most privileged residents before the revolution. Even President Batista was not allowed to enter the country club because he was mulatto. Can you imagine President Obama being turned away from a country club because he’s black?? After the revolution, the country club was converted to the University of Fine Arts where students showing promise in the arts can receive a free advanced education in music, dance, theater, filmmaking, ceramic, sculpture or … Continue reading

Sounds of Havana

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 This morning we met with representatives from the Institute of Friendship with the Peoples. We listened for an hour or so to a talk about the how the revolution had benefitted the Cuban people. Since Obama and Raul Castro agreed to loosen trade and travel restrictions on the historic date, December 17, 2014, life will be rapidly changing in Cuba. We were reassured that Cuba will have regulations in place when the inevitable takes place and the voracious corporations come knocking. We were told that the corporations will have to be “Cubanized.” May that be so. … Continue reading

A Glimpse of the Medical World in Havana

Monday, March 9, 2015 For many years I had fantasized about spending time in Cuba learning about their medical system. This morning I got to experience medicine in Cuba first hand as a patient. Yesterday, while walking in the street in a part of town that still needs renovation, I tripped and fell. I remember saying to my sister before I left, “I hope my impaired vision doesn’t trip me up on this trip.” Well, it literally tripped me up. With reduced peripheral vision and no depth perception, I fell in a hole in the street while looking at the … Continue reading

A Deeper Look

Sunday, March 8th, 2015 This morning we did more walking around the city, this time in the poorer neighborhoods. There were people sitting on the steps to their homes, watching the world go by, others were picking up their monthly ration of food that comes in a crate at the bodega, and others were leisurely walking down the street. No one seemed in a hurry. There was no shortage of smiles and friendly greetings. “Hola, mi amor. De donde eres?” The food crates are distributed to everyone, no matter what their need. The crates contain vegetables, chicken, cooking oil and … Continue reading

Architecture in Old Havana

Saturday, March 7th, 2015 Come wander around old Havana with me. We’ll focus on the stunning melange of architecture, some buildings newly renovated, others badly in need of repair. In either case, it’s clear that Havana was the gem of the Americas at one time, cosmopolitan and swimming in wealth. As you’ll see in some of the pictures below, the architectural style reflects a series of foreign influences including colonial, classical, neoclassical, baroque, modern and even moorish. All the styles, like everything from abroad, have been “Cubanized” into a charming palette of colors, shapes and styles. Today’s guide is named … Continue reading

Arrival in Cuba

Friday, March 6th, 2015 After waiting 4 hours in the Miami International Airport, we finally boarded Havana Air for the short trip across the 100 mile strip of ocean that separates Cuba from the US. When the pilot touched down on the runway, the Cubans on board became jubilant, yelling, clapping, and squealing with delight. We were met with a blast of hot, humid air as we deplaned and walked down the ramp. Customs was long and tedious. When we walked out the terminal, we saw hundreds of people gathered to greet their relatives coming from the US with their … Continue reading

Preparations for My Cuba Trip

February 21, 2015 A few weeks ago, one of my patients, a professor at the Honors College of U of New Mexico, told me at the end of our appointment, as she was leaving my office, that a colleague of hers was taking a small group of students to Cuba in early March. The students in the Latin American studies department are enrolled in a course called “Sounds of Havana.” She asked if I wanted to join the group. Without even thinking it over, an unequivocal YES flew out of my mouth.   Cuba is a country I’ve dreamed of … Continue reading