Tag Archives: Cuba

My year of travel – a summary

Well, the year of travel is over.   And it was absolutely awesome!  So much so, that I’m avoiding “real life” for another year and heading off again!   So more to come…

Here is where I ended up going over the past year:

The Places

Many people have asked me what has been my highlight from the year, which is always a tough one to answer.  

As far as places go, most would expect me to say Antarctica.  And, while Antarctica was truly incredible, what has stayed most keenly in heart is the 10-day Huayhuash Trek I did in Peru back in September (yes, I know the blog post only just came out – too many pictures to process!).   I traveled with incredible people on both of these journeys, but I think the reason Huayhuash pips Antarctica is that I had to work for it.   10 days hiking above 4,200m, with a pass over 4,800m every day – that takes some doing, and delivers a significant sense of achievement at the end.  

The other thing that Huayhuash had going for it, is that the only time my brain completely turns off is while I’m hiking.   And trust me  – that that point in my trip, I really needed to switch my brain off for a while!  10 days of not thinking about anything except my immediate surroundings was absolute bliss!    And the scenery was amazing!

As far as the biggest positive surprise goes – El Salvador takes that one out hands down.   I loved it there, as did all the people I traveled with.   The El Salvadorean people know that their country has a reputation for being unsafe, and go out of their way to help you and ensure you have a great time.   And oh the pupusas…..

As far as the biggest negative surprise – unfortunately, Cuba.   The way everyone raves about it I probably went in with too high expectations – but most of the time I just felt like I was a walking money-bag.   A couple of caveats with this – I suspect most people go on an organised trip and only stay in the “tourist triangle” – La Havana, Viñales, Trinidad, Varadero.    This would give you a very different experience to the one I had during my first couple of weeks in particular – travelling independently in the eastern part of the island.  

I can only speculate, but I have met several other people who where there either at the same time as me (and who I traveled with) or around the same time, who also ended up with the same opinion.

The People

Apart from where you go and what you see/do, the other key aspect of traveling are the people that you meet.  I strongly suspect that this is even more keenly felt by long-term travelers and, although I shared my journey with many, many wonderful people, the following have left a particularly strong mark:

Nicaragua:   Pedro Torres, Keith Manyin, Caite Handschuh, Tom Rendulich, Sven and Caroline Hansen, Sekar Bala

El Salvador:  Andre (did I ever know your last name Andre?), Susan Jung

Guatemala:  Susan Jung, Julia Koch

Cuba:  Wendy Moors, Rebekka Wessels

Ecuador:  Jenny Waack

Peru: Max Abé, Niccoló Quattropani, Jenny Waack, Rebekka Wessels

Bolivia: Jenny Waack, Kimberley Carter

Chile:  My old ESO buddies, Jenny Waack

Antarctica:  Tyson Brooks, Carl Enfohrs, Remco Verstappen

And a very special thank you has to go to Eliza Hernandez – the most awesome spanish teacher ever!   I am infinitely grateful to have had Eliza as my grammar teacher over the total of 3 months I spent at La Mariposa Spanish School both this trip and on my previous visit.  It is largely thanks to her that my Spanish is almost fluent!

What did I discover?

The other thing that people often ask about when they find out I’ve been travelling for a year is “what did you learn by doing it” and/or “how has it changed you”?   Well, it’s not like I specifically set out to learn anything (apart from improving my Spanish), though I did have a few periods of pretty intense reflection of what I wanted out of life.  

So here’s some non-exhaustive dot point musings about travel from the last year: 

  • it makes you live more in the moment.  I was not really worried about the future and what I needed to do/should do next.  Well, right up until the point where I had to decide whether I would return to my job or not…
  • it allows you to relax and encourages you to take time to do nothing.  Though somehow the days are incredibly full and I have no idea how I managed to fit a full-time job in previously!
  • it gives you the opportunity to meet lots of new and (sometimes) interesting people, and have different conversations to what you would normally have
  • it highlights how little you actually know about the world, and that you should ask more questions, always!
  • it really cuts through the rubbish and highlights how similar we all are, no matter where we come from
  • it teaches you patience and resilience.  Fortunatley I already had a good amount of both, having lived in Latin America previously
  • it forces you to live simply.   You cannot fit very much in a 60L bag, and I’m here to tell you that you really don’t need many material possessions to have an incredible life
  • it doesn’t change the fact that Australia is home and always will be (no matter how much I love Latin America).  If anything, I become more patriotic (but hopefully not in an obnoxious way) when I travel.   It also showed me just how little I knew about certain aspects of my own country (e.g. politics)
  • it makes you really appreciate the luxuries we enjoy in our everyday, first-world lives.   Clean drinking water, hot showers with plenty of water pressure,  the huge variety of fresh and cooked food in Australia, being able to buy a truly cold coke on a hot day from the service station or supermarket…

And what do I want out of life?   Well, I’m still not quite sure I know.  But I’ve always wanted to go back and live in Latin America again for a while, and that now factors into my plan for this coming year 🙂  Living in Ecuador (Chile is too expensive 🙁 ), doing freelance work for organisations back in Australia – it’s kind of one of the ideas Tim Ferriss puts forth in “The 4-hour Work Week”, though I’d had the idea before I read the book.   If it all works out like I hope – it could make for a great life for a while!  

Stay tuned…

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Highlights of La Habana – Cuba

I spent a total of almost 6 days in La Habana but didn’t really get up to very much.   These were my highlights.

Doing nothing:  I spent a lot of time sitting on the balcony of the Casa Particular where I was staying, watching the view and listening to Maroon 5 and The Cat Empire.

La Habana - Cuba

As I’ve mentioned before, Cuba does good storms and it was a wonderful place from which to watch them come over the city.

La Habana - Cuba

Salsa Dancing lessons:  One of the reasons I spent so long in La Habana was that I wanted to get in some serious salsa dancing lessons before I left.   I ended up doing ~2hrs/day at Salsa en Clave with Yordi as my teacher.  My dancing is apparently pretty good, but I have a long way to go with my styling 🙁

Salsa en Clave - La Habana - Cuba

This is after 2 hours of dancing – I’ve never sweated so much in my life!

Street Art:  In all my wandering around, I came across a lot of great street art.  It’s funny – I’m not often interested in formal art galleries, but I love the informal art found in the streets.

La Habana - street art - Cuba

La Habana - street art - Cuba

Panadería y Dulcería San Jose:  A bakery on the main pedestrian street in La Habana Vieja (Obispo) that sold the most incredible pastries.   The box has my favourites – Palmeras, Cocadas (round, moist coconut balls), Catalana (flakey pastry filled with coconut paste), and the best brownies I’ve ever eaten!  I called in every day after my salsa dancing class.

Bakery - La Habana - Cuba

La Habana Vieja:  It is touristy and it is a cliche, but wandering around La Habana Vieja really is lovely.   The architecture is incredible though it is sad to see the state of disrepair.  That being said, there is a lot of restoration going on … the sound of La Habana Vieja is jack hammers!   Would be amazing to see it all completely restored!

La Habana Vieja - Cuba

Architecture and old aqueducts in La Habana Vieja

El Malecon:  Another of the touristy cliches, but again definitely the place to be.  I have to admit, as a single woman sitting there by yourself – you do get hassled a lot!  All the guys want to chat with you.   In the end, on the last evening, I resorted to putting in my headphones and turning on my music so I had an excuse to not talk (plus it drowned out the sound of the traffic).  But even then, I reckon within the space of 1.5 hours, I got tapped on the shoulder 11 times by guys wanting to get my attention and telling me to take my headphones out.   Nope!

El Malecon - La Habana - Cuba

Plaza de la Revolución:  Got up very early one morning to walk out to this massive monument, which is bordered by one of the most iconic images in La Habana – that of Che Guevara.

Plaza de la Revolucion - La Habana - Cuba

The old cars:  Yes, they really are still everywhere and kinda cool to see 🙂

La Habana - cars - Cuba

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Government propaganda – Cuba

There is a lot of propaganda about Fidel, Che and the revolution in Cuba – some of it really quite artistic.

Because Fidel and Raul are still alive, the propaganda featuring them tends to be on billboard along the highways (the only type of advertising along the highways in Cuba).   It is Che and Cienfuegos that feature heavily in the street art within the towns and cites.

Cuba propaganda

I also liked this sign I found explaining the concept of the revolution.

Cuba Revolution Concept

It translates as:

  • It’s a historic moment
  • It’s changing everything that should be changed
  • It’s equality and liberty
  • It’s to be treated and to treat everyone else as human beings
  • It’s to free ourselves with our own efforts
  • It’s to defy powerful forces within and outside of social and national spheres
  • It’s to defend the values we believe in regardless of price and sacrifice
  • It’s modesty, altruism, solidarity and heros
  • It’s to fight with audaciousness, intelligence and realism
  • It’s to never lie or violate ethical principles
  • It’s the profound conviction that there is no force in the world capable of breaking the power of the truth and ideas
  • Revolution is unity, independence and fighting for our dreams of justice for Cuba and the world, which is the basis of our patrimony, our socialism and our internationalism.

Signed by Fidel Castro.

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Traffic signs – Cuba

Not often you see traffic signs like these …   But they are everywhere in Cuba – reflecting the more traditional modes of transport that many Cubans use.

Traffic signs - Cuba

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Food carts – Cuba

I’ve mentioned before that I have no idea where Cubans get their food from – which is not strictly correct.   At least some of the fresh food is often peddled around the streets by vendors with carts.   Where the rest comes from, I still have no idea…

Cuba food

Top: Garlic and onion sellers and their bikes; Centre: Typical scene in La Habana Vieja – dug up streets and carts of fresh fruit; Bottom: Fruit cart in Baracoa

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Viñales – Cuba

The Viñales valley (you guessed it – yet another UNESCO location) is about 2 hours away from La Habana, really chilled out and really beautiful.

Mogotes - Viñales - Cuba

It is one of the biggest tobacco growing areas in Cuba where traditional cultivation techniques still dominate, and is renowned for its mogotes – dome-like limestone outcrops that rise abruptly from the valley floor.

I spent about 5 days in Viñales where I hiked up to the Hotel Los Jazmines lookout one morning to catch the dawn.

Hotel Los Jazmines lookout - Viñales - Cuba

Another morning, I again left just before dawn to hike out into the valley itself.  Lots of opportunities to see traditional farming techniques at work.

Mogotes - Viñales - Cuba

I also ended up catching up to this farmer who gave me an impromptu tour of his tabacco drying sheds and chatted a little with me about the area.

Mogotes - Viñales - Cuba

Another day I took a horseback-riding trip into the valley on Caramello – who started out enthusiastic but quickly lost the desire to walk without prompting.

Horseback riding - Viñales - Cuba

Samuel (the guide) and I essentially followed the same route as my hike, but ended up going a bit further to reach the Mural de la Prehistoria, which, while impressive in scale, wasn’t quite what I was anticipating.

Mural de la Prehistoria - Viñales - Cuba

We also visited a cave, which would have to be the least developed, non-technical cave I’ve ever been in – no formed paths at all.    As with all caves, it was pitch black once we got a little way inside and we only had 3 torches between 15 people (I joined up with a group).   This meant that more often than not you couldn’t see where to put your feet and the stakes were raised by several slippery sections.   Only stepped in the water once and fortunately didn’t actually fall over.   Couldn’t help laughing to myself that you would never be allowed to do this in Australia or many other countries.    The bonus of the cave was that you could go swimming at the end of the 300m grope through the darkness – but I have to admit the murky water wasn’t terribly appealing.

Cave - Viñales - Cuba

Added bonus of my trip to Viñales was that I got to catch up with Chris and Cathy Feil one night for dinner.  The people you meet on the other side of the world 🙂

DSCF0776

 

Recommendation:   Get out and about just before dawn as that when the light is at its best and it’s not stinking hot.

Cost:

  • Hiking = free if you do it by yourself, or you can hire a guide
  • Horseriding = 5 CUC/hour.   I arranged through my Casa Particular.
  • Entrance to the cave = 2 CUC

Time:

  • Hike = I walked for about 2.5 hours
  • Horseriding = I was out for about 5 hours
  • Cave = 20 -30 mins
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Trinidad – Viñales in Collectivo

One would think that taking a collectivo taxi (ie a taxi that follows a fixed route but takes more than one passenger) from Trinidad – Viñales would be faster than taking the bus.   One could also be very, very wrong!

I was the last person to be collected from my Casa Particular in Trinidad and the first trick was to get the bags of 4 travellers into the back of the oldsmobile.

collectivo - Cuba

Then it was trying to get comfortable on the huge sofa-like back seat of car for the 5 hour trip to La Habana.  Was quite soft and bouncy but – just like an an old couch – I could definitely feel the springs and it tended to sag in the middle.  This meant that after about 3 hours I started to get a cramp in my butt because I was not evenly distributed — much wriggling ensued.

collectivo - Cuba

We stopped off about 2 hours into the trip to get more petrol, but rather than heading to the petrol station just ahead of us, we took a detour down a dirt road and pulled into someone’s house.   Out came the funnel and the black-market petrol so that we could continue on our journey to the capital.

collectivo - Cuba

At La Habana it was meant to be quick and painless for me to swap from one collectivo to the next collectivo that would take me to Viñales.  However, another of the passengers was catching a flight and was running very, very late to check in (seriously who cuts it this close?!) so we headed straight to the airport and not to my transfer place.   There is no way he made his flight, and it meant that my transfer was screwed up as well.

We ended up heading to the ViAzul terminal where the driver tried to get me on a bus to Viñales.  There were no seats – so that didn’t work.  There were also no other collectivos going to Viñales so we dropped the other passengers off at their Casa Particular and returned to the ViAzul terminal to wait.  Ended up waiting 3 hours (I love my Kindle) before being bundled into a clapped-out Peugeot.

collectivo - cuba

But first we had to pick up 2 other passengers.  They weren’t ready when we arrived so we had to wait while they took forever to get organised (turns out they weren’t expecting the collectivo for another hour and they weren’t told that I was waiting in the car).  Finally, 4 hours after arriving in La Habana, we headed out on the road to Viñales.  This scene is quite common in Cuba – huge multi-lane road with no traffic.

Cuban roads

Cuba has several multi-lane highways that are essentially empty

About an hour out of La Habana we hit a massive storm (Cuba does really, really good storms!).  The problem was that the windscreen wipers of the car didn’t work, and given how torrential the rain was, we actually asked the driver to pull over to the side of the road so we didn’t end up dying.

Cuban storm

Torrential rain + no windscreen wipers. This was actually better visibility than when we asked our driver to pull over so we didn’t die

We sat that out for about 1/2 hour and then took off with still marginal visibility that gradually became better.    We’d already had a little car trouble, but 20 minutes up the road, we stopped for the 4th time while our driver fiddled around under the hood.

collectivo - cuba

The eventual verdict was that he thought we’d probably run out of petrol, so to sit tight while he went to get some.  Now, petrol stations in Cuba are not dime-a-dozen and we sat there for about 1.5 hours waiting for him to return.   We had just reached the point of deciding to wave down the next bus or other form of public transport when he reappeared muttering “nothing is ever easy in Cuba”.    Fortunately, the petrol did the trick and we didn’t have further drama to Viñales.

So what should have been a 7 hour trip, turned into a 12 hour trip for me (with ViAzul it would have been 9 hours) and I was pretty done once we arrived.  The only saving grace was that all of these delays meant that I got to see one of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve seen in a while – huge columns of clouds lit up externally by the setting sun and also internally with lightning.

sunset - cuba

 

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Valle de Ingenios – Trinidad – Cuba

The other day trip that I decided to do while in Trinidad, Cuba was the steam train out to the Valle de Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills), apparently alternatively known as “The Tourist Train”.

Valle de Ingenios - Trinidad - Cuba

Cuba was the world’s biggest producer of sugar in the late 18th and 19th century and this valley housed nearly 60 sugar mills and 30,000 slave workers at its peak.

In hindsight, I wish I’d taken a different option because:

  • if you are expecting a steam train – you are going to be sorely disappointed.  The steam engine seems to be out of action and instead you are pulled by a diesel engine, which makes for a not-so-pleasant smelling trip.

Valle de Ingenios - Trinidad - Cuba

  • if you are expecting close up views of old sugar mills (or even new sugar mills), you are going to be sorely disappointed.  You see one or two in the distance, but that’s it.
Valle de Ingenios - Trinidad - Cuba

These were long-lens views of what I assume are two of the old sugar mills left in the valley.

  • if you are expecting to see tons of sugarcane growing, you are going to be sorely disappointed. There is only one place along the route where you see any sugarcane – Escambray mountains (where I did the Trini-topes tour) in the background.

Valle de Ingenios - Trinidad - Cuba

While sitting on a train and getting out of the town is pleasant enough – there really isn’t much to this excursion except sitting on a train going through a valley.   Tip: sit on the left hand side of the train for the best views.    Probably also try to sit down the back of the train to minimise the diesel fumes, though you can’t escape completely.

Valle de Ingenios - Trinidad - Cuba

The highlight of the trip is the 44m tower at Iznaga which was used as a watchtower, to announce the beginning and ending of the slave’s working day on the sugar plantation, and to announce holy prayers at morning, midday and afternoon.

Valle de Ingenios - Trinidad - Cuba

I was chatting with a doorman at a restaurant in Trinidad the night before and he told me one of the many different versions of the legend of the tower.  In his version, there were two brothers who fell in love with the same beautiful woman.  They went to their father to ask who should marry said fair maiden and the father instructed them to each build a monument. One brother built a 28m well, the other built this tower.  Guess who won the hand of the beautiful woman?   The father of course!  btw there is no evidence of a well 🙂

Of course, I ran the gamut of artesanía stall lining the approach to the tower and paid my 1 CUC to climb the 184 steps to the top.  I have to admit it was a beautiful view – with the old hacienda of the sugar plantation now acting as a restaurant.

Valle de Ingenios - Trinidad - Cuba

From there it was back on the train and off to Guachinago to another old hacienda converted into a restaurant.  Given that I’d brought my own lunch – this wasn’t particularly interesting so I walked further up the train line to explore the cool rail bridge.

Valle de Ingenios - Trinidad - Cuba

From there – it was really just retracing our steps to Trinidad.  Hmmmm….  Definitely not what I was expecting and I’m not sure there is actually a way to do the trip I was expecting (ie actually getting up close and personal to the old sugar mills).   Oh well.

In hindsight I would have skipped this and done another day trip to Parque El Nicho – a different part of the Escambray mountain range.

 

Recommendation:   Meh – I wouldn’t bother.  This was the biggest disappointment of my trip so far.

Price:  10 CUC + 1 CUC to climb the tower at Iznaga

Time:  5 hours

 

Where to eat in Trinidad:  La Redaccion.  Awesome, awesome food!

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Trini-topes – Trinidad – Cuba

Caught the 2:40am ViAzul bus (that didn’t leave until 4am) from Camagüey to Trinidad and experienced a huge internal-to-Cuba culture shock!   Up until this point in my trip, I’d been in the eastern part of Cuba, which is far less touristy than the parts closer to La Habana.    I saw more souvenir shops and restaurants in 1 block heading up to the old part of Trinidad than I did in the entire previous 2 weeks!

Although the old part of Trinidad is yet another UNESCO world heritage place, after a bit of a wander, I was keen to get out into the countryside again so signed up for the Trini-topes day tour through Paraiso tours.

We met Alex our guide at the Parque Céspedes at 8:30am and, once all the people from the different tour operators arrived, we piled into an old Russian jeep (driven by Yuri of course!) for the trip into the Topes de Callantes area of the Escambray Mountains.

Trini-topes tour - Trinidad - Cuba

First stop was a viewpoint at 650m above sea level, which would have been spectacular if the day had been a bit nicer.

Trini-topes tour - Trinidad - Cuba

Then it was a stop at the town of Topes de Callantes to register for our hike and visit a coffee shop where we imbibed the included arabica robusta espresso – apparently the best in Cuba.  No explanations about coffee growing or processing – really just drinking the coffee – so the most interesting thing I saw during this part of the trip was the Kurhotel Escambray.

Kurhotel Escambray

Built in the 1930s by Bautista as a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients, it is now a hotel and spa, with some of it still dedicated to its original purpose!

From there we drove to the start of the ~3km round-trip hike to the Vegas Grandes waterfall (on other days the hike is to the El Caburni waterfall).   The first part of the hike was fairly easy and passed through lush vegetation with the occasional good view.

Trini-topes tour - Sendero Vegas GrandeTrinidad - Cuba

Then there was the descent to the waterfall.  It is quite a long way down and very steep – we weren’t looking forward to climbing back out!   But the reward is worth the effort – a gorgeous waterfall and refreshingly cold water to swim.  Once again – due to the heat – I was one of the first in the water.

Trini-topes tour - Salto Vegas Grande - Trinidad - Cuba

We stayed at the waterfall for about an hour and then started the climb back out.  The group was walking so slowly that I found the ascent really quite easy – I’m sure if I were setting the pace it would have felt much tougher!   Then back to the jeep along a slightly different route that finished at these very Soviet looking apartment buildings that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere!

Trini-topes tour - Trinidad - Cuba

From there it was off for a very late lunch (3pm), which was definitely welcome.    We had a huge torrential downpour during lunch which delayed our trip back to Trinidad, and when we finally did set off – everyone was rugged up in whatever they had (wet towels mostly – but I didn’t even have that!) to protect against the cold and the drips inside the jeep 🙂

Trini-topes tour - Trinidad - Cuba

 

Recommendation:  This is a great day out, but if you are unfit, you will find the hike up from the waterfall very, very tough!  Wear proper shoes!

Price:  29 CUC, which includes an espresso and lunch.

Time: ~7 hours

 

Where to eat in Trinidad:  La Redaccion.  Awesome, awesome food!

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Art in Camagüey

Arrived in Camagüey, undecided on how long to stay.   A quick walk around the town and look on the internet (I really wish I’d bought a guidebook for Cuba!) didn’t reveal too much to do and my decision to stay only 1 day (2 nights) was decided by the Casa Particular I was in – the only one I haven’t enjoyed to date.

Camagüey is yet another UNESCO protected city centre (UNESCO really loves this part of the world) and it is quite nice to walk around.  Some of the buildings have been restored and are quite beautiful, and there are plenty of little streets to get lost in.  There is even a whole street dedicated to cinema and film!

Camaguey cine

The highlight for me though were the galleries I found in the city.  I’m not typically one that visits art galleries, but over the years I’ve found that small galleries that focus on one or two artist are quite interesting.    This exploration started by wandering into the Santa Cecilia Convention Centre on the Plaza de los Trabajadores to buy more internet access (ETECSA had sold out of cards).   In there, they had 6 gorgeous, large works by an artist called Alejandrina.  The helpful lady on reception even wrote down the address of the artist for me and gave me vague directions on how to find her.   I did go for a wander, but couldn’t find the street unfortunately.

Inspired by that experience, I went looking for other galleries.   I was wondering past the Casa del Arte Jover (without realizing) when the guy at the door invited me to come in and have a look “sin compromiso” (ie no pressure to buy).   This was the gallery for 2 of the most famous artists in Camagüey – Joel Jover and his wife Ileana.   I LOVED it!  And I was even allowed to take photos!

The Casa is a restored house and when they were doing the restoration they uncovered several friezes, which are now on display.

Casa del Arte Jover - Camagüey - Cuba

Ileana paints in the naif style (bright, colourful, blocky) that I seem to like in general.

Casa del Arte Jover - Camagüey - Cuba

She loves painting animals and the cat in particular seems to be her mark.   I stumbled upon a mural that she’d done with this cat and other animals earlier in the morning so it was nice to tie it all together.

Ileana mural - Camagüey - Cuba

Joel’s imagery is more diverse, but the piece that really arrested me and got me to sit down for probably 20 minutes looking and thinking about it was this enormous montage about Power.

Casa del Arte Jover - Camagüey - Cuba

I believe it is his most famous work (it is considered one of the 100 most important artworks in Cuba), and the section of it that really caught my eye was this one

Casa del Arte Jover - Camagüey - Cuba

I see myself (and many other people I know) clearly in my interpretation of it.  I thought it was incredible.  However, that wasn’t the only piece of art that I loved.

This religious one is a mixed-mode piece that includes flattened Bucanero cans (Bucanero is a beer here in Cuba, and Malta is the non-alcoholic version of it) and Ciego Montero cans (this is Cuba’s softdrink company – it’s actually incredibly difficult to find Coke here and I haven’t seen Pepsi at all).

Casa del Arte Jover - Camagüey - Cuba

And this one also really appealed to me – another mixed-methods piece – I just loved the way it all fit together.

Casa del Arte Jover - Camagüey - Cuba

After spending about ½ hour there, I headed off to find Galería Martha Jiménez.  She is another of the famous artists of Camagüey with a very particular style that manifests with rotund ladies, sewing machines, fish and birds (unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures).   She is also a sculptor and in the small plaza right outside her Galería there are several large pieces.

This piece of the gossiping ladies is based on her most famous artwork.

Galería Martha Jiménez - Camagüey - Cuba

I can imagine that these lovers have just caught the bicitaxi in the background (one of the most popular ways to get around Camagüey) to this plaza to hang out.

Galería Martha Jiménez - Camagüey - Cuba

Then I met Norberto Betancourt, the model for one of the sculptures in the Plaza.  He’s now 83 years old but posed for the sculpture back in 2002.  He comes out to the Plaza each day with his “Adelante” newspaper to meet tourists and pose with his likeness.   He was a lovely old man who loved Australians (of course) – and we ended up chatting for about 20 minutes.  He sent me on my way saying he’d ask God to bless my journey and travels.

Galería Martha Jiménez - Camagüey - Cuba

I found a piece of jewellery that I loved (hello Cuban souvenir) – this flower made out of leather – at another gallery.

Cuban Jewellery

And thought these portraits made out of plaster on a wall were really clever.

Camagüey art - Cuba

Finally visited the Gallery Latios, which again had some artwork that appealed to me.  No photos unfortunately, but essentially the artist made great use of negative space and had very un-cluttered depictions of nature – typically a dragonfly or hummingbird with either a swathe of colour or a simple plant.

Recommendation:  Definitely worth the visit to all of these places!

Cost:  Free (unless you can’t resist and buy something of course 😉 )

 

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