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Monday, May 9, 2016

Cuba visit part two May 9, 2016





We were served Mojito's a the beginning of every meal and at many events. Mojitos are lime and mint drinks with a club soda base    ------and doused liberally with rum!!
Havana Club is the Cuban name for Baccardi which is in a disagreement with Cuba over the use of their name for the rum which is made in Cuba, but no longer owned by the family.
Cuba is suddenly in the news every day. A cruise ship docked in Havana last week, the first one in forty years. Coco Chanel's company paraded their expensive clothing on what used to be an upscale street  called the Prada, in the heart of Havana, but the locals were kept far away. They didn't even see the show--and no Cuban could afford anything in the show anyway. This week the Kardashians are in Cuba.
Lots of publicity! One good thing is that there is a dance festival in New York this week called The Cuban Festival and a group that we saw rehearsing in Cuba called Malpaso, will be here for three performances. I will try to get a ticket. They are sold out online! Will the dancers benefit from the proceeds? I don't know.
The Cuban people are resourceful, they fix their cars with whatever they can find. They fix their homes the same way. We went to one building project in Havana, being sponsored by a company called La Californie, that is providing the materials, paint, whitewash, plaster, etc. to fix up each person's apartment, one at a time. The family moves out and the supervisors help the residents fix the apartment. Then the family moves back in and they fix the next one. Our tour guide explained to us that the Cuban people are not good with quality control.They are so used to deprivation, they value whatever they have or can make and are not critical. They are not perfectionists. Except in their dance, their music, their playwriting and acting. I have not read anything literary produced by Cubans as I do not speak Spanish, but I'll bet the quality of all their artistic work is superb. I bought a painting from Martha Jimenez while I was in her gallery in Camaguey.
We visited what used to be a ranch owned by a Texan, the King Ranch. The property and the cattle were nationalized after the revolution, but the name stayed. It is now a tourist destination with a restaurant, horse drawn cart rides and a mini-rodeo. The cattle died, due to poor animal husbandry. There is now a small project aimed at improving the herd to withstand the Cuban climate. Meanwhile, beef is rationed. The Cuban's main source of animal meat is pork. When a cow dies, they butcher the meat and save it for kindergartens and the elderly. They even kosher slaughter a few for their Jewish citizens who don't eat pork. In a restaurant or at the hotels, the beef is imported from Australia.
I met a woman who is an engineer who speaks English. She was visiting in Havana, having moved many years ago to Canada. She is grateful her two sons grew up in Canada and now have professional careers. She comes to Cuba on visits. She felt unable to remain in Cuba to rear her children. My first son was born in 1959. Had I been in Cuba, I would have left too.

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