We were joined by the architect we met the other day, Daniel.
Later we asked him a lot of questions.
The Cuban government called the 1990’s a ‘special period’ because of the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Food and medicine was hard to get and there was much suffering. Daniel said his parents made a lot of sacrifices (i.e. let the kids eat most of the food) but he still went hungry. Then we starting talking about Cuban sports, the Olympics (they only watch summer sports because they participate in baseball, boxing and track) and other TV programs.
He was able to travel to Mexico and Switzerland to study as an exchange student. The government doesn’t grant visas to younger people in fear they won’t return to Cuba.
Walked the promenade was built in 1912 and are mostly limestone and bronze. A Parisian architect designed this area of Old Havana and called it the city of columns. Along the promenade are homes of former presidents, a ballet school and other privately owned buildings, hotels and apartments. They were also shooting a movie with costumes from the 1920’s. Apparently, the director is the most famous in Cuban film – I will have to figure out his name and try to find a way to watch his movies.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts) – was built in 1954 and received donations from collections of weathy Cubans who fled. Cuban fine art follows American and European trends. Most of the works are political, especially the pieces from the 1960’s. The building we were in was for Cuban artists only but there was another building for foreign art in a different location. Across the street there was a military museum honoring the Bay of Pigs.
Then we went to lunch at an Italian restaurant. Pizza is very popular in Cuba. We had cheese pizza and spaghetti – I tried the spaghetti but it wasn’t very good.
Jaimanitas by Jose Fuster – a created art neighborhood by a man who is famous for mosaic tiling and also crazy paintings. He designed many things for his neighbors too. He spent 40+ years decorating his own house and 18 years on his neighbor’s houses.
While Margaret went to a performance by a trio of jazz musicians from the Cuban Institute of Music, I lounged and swam in the hotel pool since this was our only chance.
We ate dinner at a Paladar on outskirts of the city run by an Italian man and his Cuban wife.