Home From Away


Two weeks away ended late last night with surreal familiarity of coming home. We’ve done this enough to know how dreary Vancouver is after time away. Wisely, my husband softened transition from 11 days in Cuba with 3 in Toronto for Caribana before flying home. Caribana, the largest Caribbean Festival in North America helped, but didn’t cure longing for Cuba.

I’ll need a few days to process Cuban ponders – three cities, over 1,000 kilometers by taxi between them, hundreds of kilometers walked along cobblestone streets – a lot to digest.

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Carnival in Santiago de Cuba

Valle de la Prehistoria, a sprawling 60s era theme park located in Parque de Baconao, twenty Km outside Santiago de Cuba.

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/baconao-park

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Changing of the guard at Castro’s grave in Santiago de Cuba.

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Fusterlandia – https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/fusterlandia

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Havana

 

Cuba Calling….


Ah vacation, weeks of planning, simmering expectation and promise about to become reality. This time next week we’ll be in Havana at Mercure Sevilla (pictured below)

Three nights in Havana, a flight to Santiago de Cuba later, four nights at Casa Granda to experience Carnival.

Next we hire a driver to take us to Trinidad de Cuba, a distance of roughly 600 Km. The fact we have to spend 3 nights at “all inclusive” pictured below, is over shadowed by adventure of driving there.

Time to hire another driver, back to Havana for two nights at Estancia Bohemia –

From Havana, a flight to Toronto for Caribana –

Home on August 4th.

Words fail to describe how much Notes needs a vacation. I’m exhausted, Cuba promises to put everything right.

Saddened By Fidel Castro Passing


News of Fidel Castro’s death ignited a curious sadness. Politics, propaganda and perception of the Cold War are complicated. It upsets me to ponder how little is remembered of how and why the revolution took hold.

Revolutions aren’t born of prosperity or contentment, they fester in a population oppressed by corruption and greed. Everyone knows of Castro, how many regard his predecessor Fulgencio Batista with contempt? How many Americans schooled on evils of Castro fathom the injustice of Batista’s Cuba, grasp simmering disgust for his roll out the red carpet invitation to organized crime and American profiteering? Batista governed twice under vastly different circumstances – duly elected president in 1940 on a socialist platform, Batista left office in 1944. Eight years in America later he returned as a candidate in the 1952 election, facing certain defeat Batista orchestrated a military coup, seizing power as an unelected dictator.

The U.S. government fawned over Batista, a dictator who suspended the constitution, revoked the right to strike, handed American based corporations exclusive rights to resources and welcomed U.S. mafia into Havana – all with financial/military support of the United States. Obviously America was rattled when Havana lawyer Fidel Castro called bullshit.

Cold War propaganda, a super-power pissing match, threat of nuclear annihilation – vilifying Castro was effortless. Who could blame people for thinking Communism their greatest enemy, the hammer poised to eradicate civilization. America wasn’t bothered by dictator Batista”s Cuba, his Cuba suited them nicely. Batista death squads, torture, state controlled media, suspension of elections and corruption could be overlooked – irrelevant details considered part of doing business.

Pondering sadness over Castro’s passing has nothing to do with pro/con analysis of his legacy. I’m not defending human rights violations, or claiming sunshine and roses for Cubans under his rule. My sentiment comes from the realization so many forget, or never knew why Castro orchestrated the revolution.

America condoned corruption and terror in Batista’s undemocratic Cuba because it suited them. America played a starring role in driving Castro to revolutionary desperation. In my opinion Fidel Castro began as an idealistic young man, a man appalled by greed, brutality and social injustice. Unfortunately 1950s hysteria called poking fat U.S. money bellies in the name of social justice Communism. By virtue of the era, Castro himself had no choice but to profess his ideology Communist. Castro seized power in a world indifferent toward human rights atrocities of a corrupt dictator who played well with American interests.

Remember this when pondering Fidel Castro. Before making broad generalizations, understand the Batista Cuba Castro abhorred. History’s puzzle isn’t complete without all the pieces. Pieces of time, place, circumstance and consequence won’t snap in place until we see the whole picture.

http://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/fidel-castro

Below, a link to another of my posts on Cuba

https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2014/10/03/cuban-embargo/

Stones Rock Havana


Oh to be in Havana tonight – shoulder to shoulder with over 200,000 spectators at Ciudad Deportiva de la Habana baseball stadium, witness to a free concert by the Rolling Stones.

The Stones released their first album in 1964, two years after the Cuban missile crisis, five years after the revolution in 1959. Considered diversionismo ideologico ( ideological divergence ) by a regime unwilling to tolerate influence of enemy culture, the Stones joined Elvis Presley and the Beatles, headlining an official list banning all foreign rock music. ( One notable exception – approval of John Lennon’s 1971 release, Power To The People. Lennon has a park named after him in Havana, complete with his statue ).

News of Stones in Havana didn’t find me until yesterday. first reaction dropped a jaw, followed by pining for a stolen heart. No time to ponder implications – too busy walking streets, lost in the heartbeat of Havana night, vignettes of musical expression erupting around every corner. My only thought – kick ass Havana, better late than never.

Morning arrived with bag of squirrels cacophony – Cuba deserves more than a knee jerk “kick ass, better late than never” or media fawning over “iconic” historical concerts, akin to David Bowie at the Berlin Wall in 1987, or Wham in China, 1985. No argument on iconic, without question hundreds of thousands packing a baseball stadium in Havana for a Stones concert, warrants that designation. Worrisome resides in perspective, call it media spin whirling about translation of iconic.

Regardless of opinion’s nationality or political affiliation, we mustn’t forget the Cuban people. Personal experience left indelible marks, a life altering view of tenacity, perseverance, creativity and resourcefulness. Despite oppression and civil rights violations, remember people whose fortitude fill the night with music. Music monitored by government, musicians arrested for subversive lyrics, artists who dare not stand in line for the Stones because they fear detention.

This concert straddles a full spectrum of intent, in time meaning will show itself. Until then, honour the people of Cuba. Ignore sniveling right wing quips promoting cultural arrogance and blanket assumption of robotic communist conformity. Nip the bud of tiresome debate over ulterior motives, scold yourselves for thinking a concert might erase Cuban woes. Allow the Stones to rock Havana, and let chips fall where they may.