Santa Clara, Cuba
05.02.2015 - 05.02.2015
Their are two reasons to visit Santa Clara, Cuba:
1. To see where the the Revolution was won.
These are the original rail cars that housed the defeated enemy troops and the bulldozer that razed the tracks with sculptures to signify the ruined rails.
These are bullet holes in the wall of a hotel that they have decided to never patch.
2. To honor Che
Can't you just picture throngs of people standing here for hours listening to one of Fidel's long speeches.
The mausoleum is quite a spectacular site. The museum for Che is excellent with guides to discuss the history. One of the guides was leading a group in Spanish. When he saw me, he asked the group of Europeans if they minded if he changed to English so that I would understand. Each time he came to a point that included the US involvement in a rather negative light, he would bow to me and say "Excuse me for telling this."
In addition to honoring the revolution and revolutionaries, we on the Road Scholar tour had our usual interaction with a local organization. Here, we met with a senior citizens center who danced and played games with us and then joined us for lunch.
We were also entertained by a troubadour who, if I remember correctly, is a professional who receives his salary from the government.
I spent so much time at the memorial that the rest of the group was waiting for me in the bus. I asked to remain in town on my own and have them pick me up when the bus returned to bring others back to town for dinner.
This was when I saw the sites as I walked the streets.
I saw this artistic grafitti throughout the town - did not see it in any other town. I could not find anyone who could translate, but did understand it was humorous or satirical about local life.
This, on the other hand, is not humorous.
This will take you back! It is now a government store without nearly as much as Woolworths stocked.
The library is in the palatial home of a Cuban who endowed a theater and many other public facilities.
I sat on the square and watched the traffic. Nothing but foot traffic is allowed on one edge of the plaza. Every single person on a bicycle or pedi-cab dismounted and walked that block. I guess if your father or grandfather was a revolutionary you don't need to practice anarchy now.
I am thinking this man might have not appropriately dismounted or should not have a pedicab on this corner.
Within five blocks of my house in Denver, I see more vagrants on the streets than I saw the complete width of Cuba.
Ice cream is almost an obsession with Cubans - perhaps because it becomes so scarce. One government company has a warehouse-size facility in each town. When folks know there is ice cream available, they stand in line to get a scoop. Often by the time you get to the head of the line, the ice cream is all gone or all that remains is vanilla.
I rented a pedicab to take me back to visit the Che and revolution memorials:
I think he mainly transported locals instead of tourists. He was rather surprised when I flagged him down. He was just getting ready to take a friend home from work. I told them, we could do that first, but they told me to go ahead and she would ride her own bike home.
Several women gave me a "thumbs up" when they saw me get in and out of this pedicab. My driver was quite the hunk!