We have limited access so far but here are some highlights:
Today, February 27, our first day in Cuba, we started our exploration of Havana with our guide Zulina and our driver Jose. We visited three different places, the Muraleando Community Project, the Nicolas Guillen Community Project and Revolution Square. After breakfast we boarded our bus and headed to the Muraleando Community Project. The project was originally founded by four people who did art work on walls, streets and other parts of their neighborhood. Other people in the neighborhood became interested and wanted to be involved in the project. Eventually the group was able to rehabilitate an old concrete water tower and its surrounding area into a community center for teaching local children art, music, film production and gave the neighborhood a new life. People came from all over the world to help develop the center. After learning about the project, meeting some of the artists and seeing their work they then had a local band play Cuban music like salsa and merengue and we all sang and danced together. There were many children who grew up in the center and they danced with us. The people also served us lunch and then we were able to buy examples of their art like paintings, photographs and jewelry and the money goes to support the center. We had a great time meeting these dedicated and talented people.
Next we visited the Nicolas Guillen Community Project. This center was founded to celebrate the work of the most famous poet in Cuban history. The project teaches poetry and music to local people in their community. A man played the guitar and a woman sang songs based on Guillen’s poems. They also sold hand made items and CD’s of music to support the project. This is a good example of how the people of Cuba celebrate their history and culture.
Later we visited Revolution Square that has a very tall monument to celebrate the most important leader of Cuban independence, Jose Martí. This is one of the most important places in Havana so we went to have a closer look but we arrived too late and the guards would not let us climb up to the monument. So we spent time taking pictures of the famous taxis of Havana that are mostly old American cars from before the revolution. We also ate lunch and dinner in new privately owned restaurants which are part of the new economic changes in Cuba. It was a great day, everyone was happy, everyone learned something about Cuba and no one got sick.
Binh Dang and Tao Xiang