Cuba!

Where to begin? I haven’t traveled in a while so please excuse my excessive gushing about how good it is for the mind & soul! I came home inspired, motivated to make art. I loved it and here are some of the things I learned:

1. Cuba is a beautiful country with decaying Colonial Spanish architecture, undeveloped rural land, blue ocean, sunny skies and beautiful, creative people.

2. People to people which is one of the required travel visas, is something I excel at, I was told. I would talk to anyone. I started many of my interactions with Cuban people by saying, “Trump es diabalo.” To which they would smile and we would both shake our heads in agreement.  Then I would say, “I hope it doesn’t change here.” Many said,  “We don’t want it to change.” Others said, “It will take a long time to change.” (Just today someone told me about what it was like there 15 years ago. A lot has changed!)

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Sylvia and Jorge huddle over ice cream discussing our next move in Cienfuegos

3. The group I went with was lead by Syliva of Colibri Travel out of Cambridge MA. She is an awesome person & tour guide. Our Cuban guide, Jorge was also awesome and very guapo.

 

 

 

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Everyone make a funny face now!

 

 

 

 

It was really nice to be in a small group of eight. We began to act like a family, with Tlak and Iruna as Mom & Dad, I was always running to catch up with the group. There were the girls, Diana, Joan and Cindy; and Linda & Dick, who I coincidentally know from Cambridge.

 

 

 

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Sorry we couldn’t bring the puppy home.

 

For my travel partner, I had the honor of being accompanied by one of my oldest and best friends, Karen R.  Even though Karen and I first became friends on a 10 day bike trip when we were 13. It took some getting used to the close quarters.  I haven’t shared a room with anyone (of my own gender)… since my sister moved out to college in 1974! Thanks for coming KR.

 

 

 

In the 3 days we spent in Havana, we visited National Museo of Fine Art & Revolution Museums, “Squares” of Old Havana (De Armas, de la Cathedral, de San Francisco, Vieja). I attended a Flamenco performance at the beautifully restored Teatro de la Habana. We walked to Hotel National along the Malecón the 5 mile long seawall which stretches from Old Havana to the Vedado neighborhood where we stayed at the awesome Vintage Casa.

We then drove east to the rural area where we visited a Tobacco Farm, we ate the most amazing vegetarian lunch in history at a “finca” farm. Not only did we count 45 different vegetables but the view was breath taking. Coconut drink with herbs, magical! The largest flan ever! Literally 12″ in diameter!

 

A night in Vinales at a Casa where we ate breakfast on the roof terrace.

 

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Diana, Jean on roof of Casa in Vinales

 

 

A night at the amazing Moka hotel at Las Terrazas, eco community, artists, swimming, trees growing thru the hotel!

 

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Artists and Farmers, Las Terrazas

 

 

Its hard not to take a good photo in Cuba. Note to self: don’t delete folders trying to make more room – due to lack of internet, they haven’t been backed up. Thankfully, my travel mates shared their best photos which I were way better than ones I lost.

 

We then headed west, our tour bus sharing the highway with horse and buggies. After visiting Che’s memorial in the heat, we headed to Unesco-protected town of Trinidad. Our final day was spent in Cienfuegos.

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Stone streets of Trinidad

 

 

Post  Script: I’ve been back in Trumpland for two weeks – what a contrast. And to dampen my mood even more, I just watched the documentary, “Cuba Fatherland or Death: Unvarnished look at contemporary Cuba through the eyes of its people” by Patria O. Muerte, which shows Cuba very differently from the one I saw as a tourist. Especially shocking  were images of people being taken away by police, as Obama disembarks from his plane. In the film, Fidel triumphantly announces “Cuba is not under anyone else’s sovereignty!” This was a great accomplishment but what followed did not provide the strong foundation, spirituality or shared values needed to succeed.Cuba is now faced with the challenge of building a society & economy to support their people. In that sense it is time for big change.

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Beautiful Decay

 

On a positive note, Cuban artist, Tania Bruguera has started the  INSTITUTO DE ARTIVISMO HANNAH ARENDT . Perhaps the arts will help Cubans have a say in what’s to come. “Here Cubanos de a pie (everyday Cubans) will use Art-activism to wish, think and do, in order to build a real democracy in Cuba.”

melcigarterrazas

The Author

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June Activity

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Hacker Junk Art Trading Cards

Cambridge River Festival

Marina Seevak  www.TravelingArtCards.com invited me to join her at the age old Cambridge River Festival to try doing Hacker Junk Mosaics in their 2.5 x 3.5 trading card format, intended to make art less intimidating. It was a great success and amazing to see how much junk kids were able to glue on to that tiny piece of wood.

Although the overall festival was well attended, our table was pretty quiet. With so  much else going on, music, food, things to buy… I didn’t hand out many of the flyers I made up for my first workshop on Saturday, June 8th. Parts and Crafts, 577 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA 02144 http://www.partsandcrafts.org 410-967-5207 /contact@partsandcrafts.org

There was a beautiful breeze coming off the Charles river in the midst of a heat wave. First time ever, I saw kids jump off the Weeks Bridge into the water! I dont know if you know Cambridge, but that river is so polluted there has been no swimming in there since the 1950’s. It was great to see!

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Art Trading cards with Basquiat

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Display Case at the North Easton Library

Ames Free Library, North Easton!

53 Main St  North Easton, MA 02356 http://www.amesfreelibrary.org

North Easton (near Brockton)  is an architectural gem! They have 2 incredible Richardson Buildings right next to each other. Additionally, there is a formal garden and a mansion in the backyard!  Back in February, Uma and Jason left a note on my pegboard while they were attending the How to Make a Maker Space – inviting me to bring my work down to their library ….. 4 months later and here it is! Although its just one display case in the periodicals room of a library, I think it looks really good! The scale of the pieces fit perfectly on the 4 glass shelves. Using a variety of stands, I was able to get 13 pieces into the tall glass case.  The contrast between the beautiful old wood work and the Hacker aesthetic is pretty exciting. The wood work in the building is amazing – they could shoot films in there… there’s even a huge fireplace just across from the girl reading at the table.

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The Ames Free Library

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The beautiful garden inspired me to go home and work on mine.

At the Asylum

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Baby’s first dolly!

Finally got around to building a shelving unit on wheels to replace my wooden pallet at the Artisan’s Asylum.  I have pushed the limits of official use of the pallet area and Molly and Rob have laid down blue tape lines to define space.

Like John’s, I attached metal shelves 3/4″  board which is drilled down onto a 2″x6″ frame with wheels attached. The sweet Moroccan guy at Home Depot got it half right, but he cut the board too small. Luckily I found a replacement in the scrap pile! Cost of materials: $130. Now I have a parking space for my grocery cart. The goal is to have everything is on wheels. I’d love to get a space of my own but I would really miss being at the intersection of Jim, Gretchen and Emily.

Dont forget to visit my Etsy store and click on Fav!!!https://www.etsy.com/shop/Melsplace

Thanks

Melissa