Cuba Day 2

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Buffet breakfast in the basement of the hotel, looking out to one of the two pools.  Lots of fruit, veggies, eggs to order, undercooked bacon, canned OJ, Cuban coffee or latte from a push-button machine like they have in convenience stores in the US.  Fresh-squeezed OJ and a barista for espresso on Saturday morning or maybe for a later breakfast then ours.  Ok breads.  (Cubans get rations which include 12 eggs per person a month.)


Then a visit to ISA – Instituto Superior de Artes – “a conservatory-like institution offering courses in music, dance, and studio arts.”  It was featured in the documentary at the Loft, Unfinished Spaces.  ( a Lonely Planet review:

The leading art academy in Cuba is the Instituto Superior de Arte, established in the former Havana Country Club in 1961 and elevated to the status of institute in 1976. The cluster of buildings – some unfinished, some half-restored, but all gloriously graceful due to the arches, domes and profuse use of red brick – was the brainchild of Che Guevara and a team of architects. Among them was Ricardo Porro, who designed the striking Facultad de Artes Plásticas (1961) with long curving passageways and domed halls in the shape of a reclining woman.

The art thesis projects were up.  Some great stuff.  Plus professors were showing their work.   Loved the prints of Osmeivy Ortega. (That’s him in the green T-shirt.)  The “gold” in this sculpture is made entirely of banana peels.  Also this life-size painting.  I, of course, have tons more photos.


Next we visited “the Gaudi of Cuba”, José Fuster (that’s him with the heart), and his community project, Fusterlandia, redecorating his neighbors’ houses in his area with his tiles, as well as fanciful creatures.  (Took lots more photos.)  Bought one of his cutouts, a woman playing a keyboard.  Had lunch there.  I sat next to a woman in the first group, K.  While chatting, discovered she has worked in the Art League with my neighbor, N, and lived across the street from my good friend, M.  (Tucson is small.)

La Colmenita!

After a short time at the hotel to freshen up we went to the Children’s Theater of Cuba, La Colmenita! (The Little Beehive) to see the kids perform a version of Cinderella to Beatles’ music.  They have learned “un poco de Ingles.”  Ages 6 – 12.  Very cute.  They’ve toured in the US and Geo’s group helps support that.

Basilica de San Francisco de Asis and La Compañia Retazos

On to a concert at the Basilica de San Francisco de Asis, to see La Compañia Retazos (Patchwork), La Musica y La Danza-Teatro.  A dancer in what looked like a wedding dress, and a hat three feet wide danced down the aisle, stopping next to us while bougainvillea petals rained down from the balcony on her.  (Unfortunately, I did not have my camera out.)  Then three men in white shirts and white suits and four other women, one in black and the others in jewel-toned ball gowns, dashed back and forth across the stage.  Sadly, all I could see were the tops of their heads.  The performance was for dignitaries (one man in a full suit, and it was warm in there), so they had the first one-third of the seating.  Before the symphonic orchestra from ISA performed Ignacio Cervantes and Mozart, we had to leave for our next venue.

Damien Aguilles

So on to a reception in an artist’s home, Damien Aguilles, where we had Cuba Libres, rum and coke.  I took a photo of one of his metal works, men cut out of old cars, before we were told no photos.  Another of his pieces, done from flattened paint cans, covered a wall in the evening’s restaurant.  Damien also did paintings.  Note: one of our first group was considering purchasing a man cutout grouping of 50 men, for $6K.

Paladar le Chansonnier

Dinner at Paladar le Chansonnier.  (Le Chansonnier is the Number One rated paladar according to, the web’s top independent Cuban travel site.)  The paladar was very elegant.  The house dates back to 1860.  The couple we ate with turned out to be a cardiologist, C’s partner, and his wife, an artist.  The octopus salad appetizer was the best I’ve ever had, the duck was stringy, the ice cream heavenly, but all ice cream on the island (said K) is excellent.

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2 Responses to “Cuba Day 2”

  1. Jim Says:

    I hope the Cuban conservationists manage to save the Cuban crocodile from extinction. There is fossil evidence that these magnificent living dinosaurs once preyed giant ground sloths.

    It would interesting to determine why some Pre-Columbian tribal groups on the island of Cuba culturally evolved cannibalism, but others did not

    • notesfromthewest Says:

      There is a crocodile farm in Boca de Guama in the Matanzas province of Cuba, but except for our excursion to Las Terrazas we stayed in Havana with the biennial.
      Don’t know about cannibals in the Caribbean, but Fiji was one of the last outposts of cannibalism, and I’m going there Thursday.

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