Yoruba dances in Santiago

The eastern city of Santiago de Cuba is known for the African influences in its music, religion, and peoples. On our short trip to the city this past October were had the chance to listen to a couple lectures about religion in Cuba and Santiago at Casa del Caribe, one of the premier religious research institutions on the island.
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Callejon de Hamel: AfroCuban art project

CallejonDH2

Callejon de Hamel [Hamel’s little street] is a pedestrian street in the Cayo Hueso section of Centro Habana neighborhood. This street serves as a living art project and a homage to the area and the island’s African roots. The visual art in the street and on the surrounding building walls is just as impressive as the Rumba performances that take center stage every Sunday from 12-3pm.
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Thoughts on the road to Cienfuegos

20 November

There’s a subtle magic in traveling rural highways under the black of night. I’ve always thought this, but in Cuba the thought sneaks into my mind almost without fail and has the power to subdue me for hours. I’m not sure what it is, but there’s some aspect in the night time journeys through this country that awakens part of my soul that usually lies dormant.
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The Valley of Viñales

Viñales is a small town, national park, and valley in the Pinar del Rio province of Cuba. Last weekend a few of us stayed their for a night and took a loooong horse ride through parts of the park surrounding the town.

Leaving the town.
Leaving the town.

Crossing a bridge to meet up with our horses
Crossing a bridge to meet up with our horses

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Pa’l Oriente pt. 2: Baracoa, where Columbus landed

[Except for the last section, what follows is more or less what I originally wrote down during our trip to the eastern city of Baracoa.]

Statue commemorating Christopher Columbus (with strategic camera placement)
Statue commemorating Christopher Columbus (with strategic camera placement)

20-21 Oct

Speeding down a narrow two-lane highway, expansive fields and not-so-distant mountains roll by the bus window slowly. The hoards of farm animals, numerous guajiros on horseback, and roughly-paved winding mountain road confirm the obvious: we have left the Cuba of Habana for a more distinct and ‘natural’ country. The rocky slopes bathed with tropical greenery, reach upwards toward the sky, whose usual monochrome blue has been replaced by a sea-green canvas, showered with peach rays and sprinkled with rolling clouds that seem impossible to believe. As magical as the sight of this land proved from the air, the ground view adds a sense of enormity and connection that a plane’s isolation could never match. Continue reading Pa’l Oriente pt. 2: Baracoa, where Columbus landed

Pa’l Oriente pt.1: Trouble from the start

Ticket to Guatanamo
Ticket to Guatanamo

19 October

Down the dusty highway toward aeropuerto José Marti, the afueras of Ciudad de la Habana raced past us so quickly that I scarcely saw any people, just the hot morning sun reflecting off a sea of tin roofs. After being delayed by someone who forgot that a passport is needed in order to fly, we arrived at the small orange and blue domestic terminal of the airport. Waiting in the terminal for our forgetful companion, I was slightly nervous about getting checked in to the flight on time, and slightly more concerned about putting my faith in a Cuban airplane.
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