Cuba, a full day

I went with Barnard and so the trip had been planned for us.  My friend Liz invited me to go along as she is not only a graduate of Barnard, her company Great Performances, planned and put on the trip.  She had been before and we were able to steer off the beaten track of the planned activities.  Our excursions made the trip.

We began the first day in the area of old Havana to see the Museo Nactional da las Bellas Artes and the Museo de la Revolucion.  We just took a walk through the art museum.  Two floors that focus on one floor of colonial art and the other of contemporary art.  There was not one artist in the entire museum that I had ever seen before which is interesting.  There is a lot of meaning to be interpreted from the artists who have lived through the revolution.  We were both surprised that some of it was actually allowed to be hung.  

These old cars are everywhere.  In the areas where most of the tourists are pointed to you do see some newer cars on the road but in many of the areas that LIz and I went to there is nothing new.  

We took our own walk down a few side streets before heading back to meet the group for lunch.  The streets have small shops in the bottom of many of the buildings.  Some shops sell fruit, some are artists selling their wares, others sell three of four items of clothing and others just sell one particular bread roll. This woman shared a small shop with another vendor that sold just some fruits and vegetables.  

Phone repair.

Dance studio.

Artists gallery.

Bread cart.

A local bar.

Watch maker
Watch fixer.

Buildings on the street
Most of the buildings look like this in this area.


Bacardi building
Bacardi Building.

Mainstreetnearart museum
This is a huge avenue in that area.  I can only imagine how hopping and beautiful it was in the 50's.  

We went to lunch at Casa Miglis in Centro Havana.  The owner is half Greek and half Swedish.  He came to Cuba, fell in love and never left.  

Upstairs apartment
We got a tour of the apartment upstairs from the restaurant, across the way and next door after lunch.  There are several generations living in the apartment upstairs.  This is their living room.

Upstairs apartment kitchen
Here is their kitchen.  Such nice people to share their homes with us and it made us all wonder about their last 50 years.

Mansittingon roofview
This is a view from their rooftop.

Twins apartment
The women across the street lived upstairs in a nicer apartment.  They had come in to take care of a woman who got sick and died and were able to secure that apartment.  50 years ago 80% of the people lived in the country side and 20% in the city.  That has literally flipped so now 80% of the people live in the cities and that is one of the reasons for lack of housing.  

Ladies across the road kitchen
This is their kitchen.

They do the linens for the restaurant across the street.  Here is their washing machine.

Viewfrom the roof
This is a view from their rooftop.

Chairs with jesus
The last apartment we saw did not appear to have a bathroom.  This is their living room.

Theirstove last apartment
Their stove.

Their wall clock.

Manacross the street
This gentlmen lives across the street.

Havana university photo
The photos do not do the decay justice.  We were all a little bit speechless after this behind the scenes look.  We drove back to the hotel and drove by Havana University.  The alumnae could not get over that the university had the same stairs and lights that Columbia University had.  

We went back to the hotel where I was able to download some email and get ready for dinner.  

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    I”ve never been.Reminds me of the intersection of the poorest areas of some Caribbean Islands and the scenes from behind the Iron Curtain at the end of the Unbearable Lightness of Being.

    1. Gotham Gal

      nice combo.

    2. Emil Sotirov

      Thank you for bringing up the Unbearable Lightness of Being.

  2. Shripriya

    Pretty amazing.You must watch the movie, Una Noche. It’s streaming on iTunes and Amazon. Set in Cuba, NYU thesis film that was released theatrically. I think you’ll like it.

    1. Gotham Gal

      will check it out.

  3. CCjudy

    My friend Linda is there in Cuba through Road Scholar. I sent her your link and I hope you two could connect – judy

    1. Gotham Gal

      Im actually back. Have to post after the trip due to lack of Internet

  4. pointsnfigures

    Every American should learn about why Cuba declined. The sad thing is it doesn’t have to be this way. The decay in the physical structure is just as bad as the brutality that Castro has put on the people.

  5. LE

    This is so interesting.I think of Cuba the way I think of the Soviet Union in the 70’s. Back when nobody went there and there weren’t even that many russians that made it over here. I remember having a date with a girl in high school (maybe it was 1977?) and it was totally strange that her family had gotten out of Russia and was here in the US. She was impressed that I didn’t pepper her with questions about Russia because it was so unusual back then (tail end of the cold war) that they were like fish out of water. She was literally tired of being so poked because she was from that country and it was so rare at least back then.Pointing this out for the sake of the younger readers who probably think of the Soviet Union much differently than we did growing up. Duck and cover and all of that.Cuba is like another planet today. Great pictures.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Another planet for sure