Old Havana City, a moment in time stuck in a perpetual degrading cycle of events. Old cathedral buildings remain standing tall, but covered in peeling paint, growing mold and crumbling concrete. You can tell they were once a pride and joy, something to marvel at in Old Havana. Now they are surrounded with busy streets, peppered with fruit vendors, bike taxis, and original American classic cars. Cuban society loves to recycle in the sense that these historic buildings are now used as homes, makeshift cafes and stairway souvenir vendors. Goes to show that Cubans are able to cope with their old ways of life and intertwine it with their present. Past and present are one in the same in Cuba. However, it is this ability to hold onto the past that makes Cuba so special. Where else can you experience a culture contained in its own bubble, barely touched by outside influences?
A place dedicated to Cuba’s rich history is the Museo de la Revolucion, where personal items of those who fought in the Revolutionary War of the 1950s are displayed among other things. The building itself is something to awe at as it was the Presidential Palace of all Cuban presidents from Menocal to Batista. The main ball room, trimmed in gold paint, looks like a setting for a Disney movie, but of course can never be one due to the embargo. It was promising to see it under renovation.
My favorite bit of the museum, however, was the backyard where a mixture of actual and replicated war machines are put on display. Jeeps, small tanks and other mobile artillery machines represented the weapons used to gain Cuba’s freedom. The main attraction was the Granma, displayed in a huge plexiglass case in what seemed to be mint condition. The Granma, is the famous yacht that was used to transport Fidel Castro and 82 Revolution fighters from Mexico to Cuba in November 1956 in order to overthrow Batista’s regime. To those loyal to the Castro government, this yacht has become a symbol of passage to freedom.
Another historic site we visited was Che’s Cave, formally known as Cueva de los Portales. A magnificent cave network, placed cliff side in the town of Sierra de Güira, Cueva de los Portales was the home to Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara and his Western Army during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. As I entered the cave, the somewhat average sized entrance opened into a massive cavern, with attaching caverns on the left and right. Our tour guide pointed out the various sections of the cave that were used as the communications center, mess hall, strategy room and finally Che’s private bedroom. I thought to myself that it was pretty convenient and resourceful for Che and his men to use this natural formation to hide from possible incoming missiles, especially since there wasn’t target tracking technology back then.
Well that’s my bit about some of the Cuban history I learned. Do you know about any cool events or interesting facts from Cuba’s past? Comment below!
Click here to read about how this history has intertwined with U.S.-Cuban relations!