No trip to Havana would be complete without trying to understand Cuba's Revolution and the rise of Fidel, and how everything changed in 1959. The Maine Public group visited two important centerpieces of Havana on Tuesday — the Museum of the Revolution, and the Cuban Art Museum. We saw examples of fascinating early art as well as surrealist and contemporary art in the collection, and heard our docent say, "If you don't understand Cuba, don't worry...we don't either!" A country of contradictions.
Monday in Havana was all about art and music...the morning began with a history/ political lecture by a former Cuban Ambassador to the European Union. The economic and political reality in Cuba is dominated by the US and the embargo (still called here the "blockade"), but it sparked questions and conversation.
Soon after we set out to learn about printmaking at the Taller experimental graphic cooperative, saw the religious iconography of the central Cathedral square, and plenty of examples of vibrant street art and music (...as well as playground sports).
Cuba is full of contradictions - crushingly poor economic conditions, and very little opportunity for average citizens. Yet the tourism is booming, with large bus loads full of American travel groups crisscrossing the city. Amazing historic architecture all over Havana, with those same buildings that appear to be crumbling and almost beyond repair. Plenty of cheap Lada and Trabant eastern bloc communist era cars, side by side with the huge American Fords and Plymouths of the 1940s. No seat belts, no tail lights, and no emission systems - almost all spewing blue clouds of exhaust that chokes the throats of the tourists as they take pictures of these classic makes and models.