Saturday 26 May 2012
The Necropolis Cristóbal Colón
After breakfast (fresh OJ from a squeezing machine, a barista making espresso!) a tour of the Cemetery Colon, which was begun in 1871. Elizabeth translated for the guide. Photos of tomb of seven Cuban presidents – gothic. (The smear is a reflection in the bus window.) Other tombs are art deco, modern. All above ground. Large one for 35 firemen who died in an 1890 fire when stored gunpowder exploded. Nun and pelican represent sacrifice, of Jesus, of self.
There are other cemeteries, a Jewish one, a Chinese one. 15,000 private properties in this cemetery even if relatives of the dead live in the US. Important people buried on Christopher Columbus Avenue, the main one. Much carrera marble. 56 sectors. Catholic originally, now all faiths accepted; faith, hope, and charity emphasized rather than death.
The Legend of “La Milagrosa” (see photo):
Doña Amelia passed away during childbirth in 1903 at the age of 23 years old. Her child died as well. She was buried with her dead child placed at her feet. According to legend, when the grave was opened some time afterwards the child was in his mother’s arms. Her desperate husband, José Vicente Adot, went to the cemetery every afternoon and tapped the gravestone with the bronze knocker screaming: Wake up Amelia! Wake up Amelia! for 17 years until he died.
Hundreds of people go to La Milagrosa to ask for their children or love affairs.
Notice all of the flowers, and the darkened marble where women rub it daily. They also thump the knocker. All of the plaques in the other photo are thank-you’s to Doña Amelia for answering their prayers.
Museum of Bellas Artes
Next to see the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation’s (CIFO) private collection at the Museum of Bellas Artes, building 2, but first, the bicycles.
Curator Osbel Suarez remembers the years after a transportation crisis when the streets of Havana were flooded with the Chinese-made brand, Forever Bicycles. So he decided to place a massive installation in the central hallway of the Museum of Bellas Artes called Forever Bicycles, made up of 1,200 of those bicycles stacked together, by Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei.
Hotel de Inglaterra
Lunch at Castropol, a snazzy pizza place. (I looked it up on the internet and the description and photos don’t match my recollection.) Note: Elizabeth and Alberto, our bus driver, do not join us for meals in paradores, which have just been approved by the government; they only eat in government restaurants.
On to the studio of Esterio Segura (pictured). 50+ prints of Fidel making love to “Cuba” in various poses, rejected by the Biennial; he had to submit something else. This man was part of an old installation.
Next Kadir López. I wasn’t crazy about his paintings, so I took a photo of his car.
Finally the home of Sandra Ramos, whose 90 Miles installation we’ve already seen. Showed us her Alice in Wonderland series. I liked this one the most. (The glare at the top was from ceiling lights on the glass.) Think she said that a print was $6K.
Dinner at La Guarida Paladaro on the third floor (a treacherous climb) of a building that looked like it was from the movie Bladerunner. Laundry on the second floor. Cuba gave it a XXX Trofeo de Oro de Turismo Hosteleria y Gastronomia. This was the room that we were in, but I didn’t take the photo; it’s from one of my Cuba magazines. Here’s the Lonely Planet review:
Located on the top floor of a spectacularly dilapidated Havana tenement, La Guarida’s lofty reputation rests on its movie-location setting (Fresa y Chocolate was filmed in this building).
I had an excellent fruit soup, an octopus hors d’oeuvre for my main course, and shared the signature strawberry and chocolate ice cream with N. We traded back and forth with J and D for part of this flourless chocolate cake.
Geo’s friend, S, from Switzerland has joined us the week. (Photo of her in her “Cuban dress” on the bus.)
Tags: Ai Wei Wei, Castropol, Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation’s (CIFO) private collection, Cuba, Esterio Segura, Havana, Hotel de Inglaterra, La Guarida Paladaro, Legend of "La Milagrosa", Museum of Bellas Artes, Sandra Ramos, The Necropolis Cristóbal Colón