Havana - Day 4


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Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana
February 17th 2018
Published: March 2nd 2018
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Today’s plan was to find Central Parque and the Museo de la Revolution. We had originally thought it was a bit of hike and we would need a taxi but Doug had taken us through the neighbourhood the night before and we realised its actually just a short walk. From Plaza Vieja it involved walking down streets we hadn’t seen before and it was quite entertaining, well for me at least. Jo stopped an turned around about ten times to see me snapping photos of various buildings. The contrast between buildings is quite striking. Some a well-kept, painted and pretty. Standing right next to them are buildings so covered in moss they look like they are rotting away. You do have to be careful where you walk here. Firstly, most of the streets are cobblestoned so that’s a challenge, although I have seen some ladies manage it in stilettos and still manage to look good. In addition, sometimes you will find water leaking from the balconies above, sometimes it is pouring from the balconies above. And there are dogs roaming the streets everywhere so watch where you step.

Anyhow, we wandered along until we found Capitilo Nacional, a beautiful old building that used to hold the Cuban government until the Castro revolution. It was built on the back of the sugar boom of the 1920’s at a cost of US$17m. It is a classical government building with huge pillars out the front and a massive dome on the roof. There’s a few of those in various countries. Through the Castro era Cuban academy of sciences and the National Library of Science and Technology. Currently its undergoing some restoration work (many parts of old town are undergoing restoration work) When complete the National Assembly will move in so it will once again fulfil its purpose.

We went for a wander down Paseo de Marti, thinking the Museo de la Revolution was along that road. We made to the Malecon (Shoreline) before we realised we may have been off. A quick look at the map and we found it one street over. At least we got to see the markets on Paseo de Marti first. All local arts and crafts but well worth a look. When we got to the Museo de la Revoluciòn the queue was huge. So we went for a refreshment first. It was a hot day.

So when we finally get into the Museo de la Revoluciòn we walk through the main entry way into a massive atrium. The only door we can see is slightly to the right we head toward that only to walk out the back of the Museo de la Revoluciòn. At first, we thought that was a quick tour, but then we realised the street had been blocked off so we could make our way over to the displays they had across the road. They had some cars used by Fidel and his rebels, a plane and of course the Yaught Granma. The 19-meter yacht, is set up with 20 cabins sailed 92 men from Mexico to Cuba in 1952 and started the revolution. Equipped with provisions, weapons and 92 argumentative men, it cannot have been a very pleasant journey. The Granma is now encased in a large glass building, its very difficult to get a decent photo.

When we went back into the museum we did find a stair case hidden away to the right. This led to the upper two levels. The rest of the displays were pretty much a dedication to Fidel, Camillo Cienfuegos and Che Guevara. Fidel and Raul may have started the revolution but Camillo and Che are definitely its champions. Camillo disappeared in 1959 when his plane flying from Camaguey to Havana pitched into the sea and was never recovered. Che done himself a mischief in Bolivia in 1967. Fidel kicked on until 2016

While the museum was pretty full of propaganda, I did find the opposite side of the Cuban American story. It is safe to they do not like the CIA. In one room they detailed some of the alleged 5000 instances of CIA interference in Cuba. The CIA were responsible for an outbreak of a swine disease and an outbreak of Dengue fever and an outbreak of flu. After a while I got the feeling that anytime there was an outbreak of any kind of disease the government may have blamed the CIA because then they didn’t have to look internally. Or maybe I’m just cynical. On the western side we are taught JFK (and the CIA) trained a troop of refugees and sent them to re-take Cuba in a failed uprising called the Bay of Pigs. On the Cuban side the refugees are described as henchmen, torturers and murderers
Museo de la RevoluciònMuseo de la RevoluciònMuseo de la Revoluciòn

Which way to Havana Fidel? I dunno Camillo - But I see a bar over there ;-)
of the Batista tyranny, landowners and their descendants, etc, etc. Slightly different meaning to the word “refugee”

One of the things I did like was the recognition of the women who fought in with the rebels. Special mentions were given to Vilma Espin Guillios and Celia Sanchez Manduley. Celia worked in the underground prior to the landing of the Granma yacht and was commended for her “great sense of responsibility and organisation skills”. So I’m guessing while the men were scheming schemes and planning plans, she was the one making sure troops were fed and watered and had blankets to sleep under. Vilma was also a member of the underground, and fought in the attack on Santiago de Cuba. Who says women can’t fight in the front line?

Overall Museo de la Revoluciòn was interesting, but I was a little disappointed there was not more about Carlos Cèspedes or Jose Marti. Cèspedes started a rebellion in 1868 which lead to the abolition of slavery in Cuba. Marti started a rebellion which lead to the Spanish American Cuban war which lead Cuba to independence…well, sort of. But this museum was all about the People’s revolution. They don’t mind a
Bay of Pigs Bay of Pigs Bay of Pigs

Refugees or....
bit of a revolution these Cubans.

After the Museum de la Revoluciòn we made our way back to the Haban Vieja (old town) One turn down a street we hadn’t seen before and we were in the art district. The next couple of streets over and we found the shopping strip. We managed to purchase some wifi cards although the telepuntos store seems to be closed an awful lot. We found a restaurant with a balcony so we stopped for a drink. We settled in on the balcony only to be told that we were in someone else’s seat. So, we moved inside. Shortly after sitting down a band set up and started playing right next to us. Jo was not impressed but I thought they were pretty friendly. The singer came over to our table and insisted I play the maracas and we had the standard conversation

Cuban; Where are you from?

Me/Jo; Australia

Cuban; ohhh Australia….Skippy?

This is the start of almost every conversation. (seriously someone promoted the hell out of Skippy over here) This band however knew. “Skippy, Nicole Kidman, Ian Thorpe?” That was new one for the books.

Today’s plan was to find Central Parque and the Museo de la Revolution. We had originally thought it was a bit of hike and we would need a taxi but Doug had taken us through the neighbourhood the night before and we realised its actually just a short walk. From Plaza Vieja it involved walking down streets we hadn’t seen before and it was quite entertaining, well for me at least. Jo stopped an turned around about ten times to see me snapping photos of various buildings. The contrast between buildings is quite striking. Some a well-kept, painted and pretty. Standing right next to them are buildings so covered in moss they look like they are rotting away. You do have to be careful where you walk here. Firstly, most of the streets are cobblestoned so that’s a challenge, although I have seen some ladies manage it in stilettos and still manage to look good. In addition, sometimes you will find water leaking from the balconies above, sometimes it is pouring from the balconies above. And there are dogs roaming the streets everywhere so watch where you step.

Anyhow, we wandered along until we found Capitilo Nacional, a beautiful old building
Parque CentralParque CentralParque Central

Cuba's many forms of transport
that used to hold the Cuban government until the Castro revolution. It was built on the back of the sugar boom of the 1920’s at a cost of US$17m. It is a classical government building with huge pillars out the front and a massive dome on the roof. There’s a few of those in various countries. Through the Castro era Cuban academy of sciences and the National Library of Science and Technology. Currently its undergoing some restoration work (many parts of old town are undergoing restoration work) When complete the National Assembly will move in so it will once again fulfil its purpose.

We went for a wander down Paseo de Marti, thinking the Museo de la Revolution was along that road. We made to the Malecon (Shoreline) before we realised we may have been off. A quick look at the map and we found it one street over. At least we got to see the markets on Paseo de Marti first. All local arts and crafts but well worth a look. When we got to the Museo de la Revoluciòn the queue was huge. So we went for a refreshment first. It was a hot day.

So when we finally get into the Museo de la Revoluciòn we walk through the main entry way into a massive atrium. The only door we can see is slightly to the right we head toward that only to walk out the back of the Museo de la Revoluciòn. At first, we thought that was a quick tour, but then we realised the street had been blocked off so we could make our way over to the displays they had across the road. They had some cars used by Fidel and his rebels, a plane and of course the Yaught Granma. The 19-meter yacht, is set up with 20 cabins sailed 92 men from Mexico to Cuba in 1952 and started the revolution. Equipped with provisions, weapons and 92 argumentative men, it cannot have been a very pleasant journey. The Granma is now encased in a large glass building, its very difficult to get a decent photo.

When we went back into the museum we did find a stair case hidden away to the right. This led to the upper two levels. The rest of the displays were pretty much a dedication to Fidel, Camillo Cienfuegos and Che Guevara. Fidel and Raul may have started the revolution but Camillo and Che are definitely its champions. Camillo disappeared in 1959 when his plane flying from Camaguey to Havana pitched into the sea and was never recovered. Che done himself a mischief in Bolivia in 1967. Fidel kicked on until 2016

While the museum was pretty full of propaganda, I did find the opposite side of the Cuban American story. It is safe to they do not like the CIA. In one room they detailed some of the alleged 5000 instances of CIA interference in Cuba. The CIA were responsible for an outbreak of a swine disease and an outbreak of Dengue fever and an outbreak of flu. After a while I got the feeling that anytime there was an outbreak of any kind of disease the government may have blamed the CIA because then they didn’t have to look internally. Or maybe I’m just cynical. On the western side we are taught JFK (and the CIA) trained a troop of refugees and sent them to re-take Cuba in a failed uprising called the Bay of Pigs. On the Cuban side the refugees are described as henchmen, torturers and murderers of the Batista tyranny, landowners and their descendants, etc, etc. Slightly different meaning to the word “refugee”

One of the things I did like was the recognition of the women who fought in with the rebels. Special mentions were given to Vilma Espin Guillios and Celia Sanchez Manduley. Celia worked in the underground prior to the landing of the Granma yacht and was commended for her “great sense of responsibility and organisation skills”. So I’m guessing while the men were scheming schemes and planning plans, she was the one making sure troops were fed and watered and had blankets to sleep under. Vilma was also a member of the underground, and fought in the attack on Santiago de Cuba. Who says women can’t fight in the front line?

Overall Museo de la Revoluciòn was interesting, but I was a little disappointed there was not more about Carlos Cèspedes or Jose Marti. Cèspedes started a rebellion in 1868 which lead to the abolition of slavery in Cuba. Marti started a rebellion which lead to the Spanish American Cuban war which lead Cuba to independence…well, sort of. But this museum was all about the People’s revolution. They don’t mind a bit of a revolution these Cubans.

After the Museum de la Revoluciòn we made our way back to the Haban Vieja (old town) One turn down a street we hadn’t seen before and we were in the art district. The next couple of streets over and we found the shopping strip. We managed to purchase some wifi cards although the telepuntos store seems to be closed an awful lot. We found a restaurant with a balcony so we stopped for a drink. We settled in on the balcony only to be told that we were in someone else’s seat. So, we moved inside. Shortly after sitting down a band set up and started playing right next to us. Jo was not impressed but I thought they were pretty friendly. The singer came over to our table and insisted I play the maracas and we had the standard conversation

Cuban; Where are you from?

Me/Jo; Australia

Cuban; ohhh Australia….Skippy?

This is the start of almost every conversation. (seriously someone promoted the hell out of Skippy over here) This band however knew. “Skippy, Nicole Kidman, Ian Thorpe?” That was new one for the books.

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