John Lennon Park in Havana

John Lennon, the Beatles and their music were banned in Cuba during Lennon’s lifetime.  John Lennon is in Havana now and sits in a park named for him.

Bronze of John Lennon in Havana, Cuba

Bronze of John Lennon in Havana, Cuba

Fidel Castro dedicated the statue of the former Beatle December 8, 2000, 20 years after Lennon’s murder.

A security guard watches the statue of Lennon sitting on a bench.  Lennon’s distinctive glasses were previously stolen, so now the guard holds the glasses and will put them on Lennon if asked.

John Lennon's security guard is my new friend

John Lennon’s security guard is my new friend

When I, Zeb the Duck, visited this statue, there was a line of tourists waiting to have their pictures taken with Lennon.  As you can see, I waited for my turn.

WOW!  I am sitting with John Lennon

WOW! I am sitting with John Lennon

Near the monument to Lennon is a cultural center and club, appropriately named the Yellow Submarine.

Too bad we didn't have time to go inside.  Looks fun.

Too bad we didn’t have time to go inside. Looks fun.

The Yellow Submarine in Havana, Cuba

The Yellow Submarine in Havana, Cuba

I, Zeb the Duck, like the statue and I liked this park.  I think you would like this park, too.  The John Lennon Park is located near the corner of streets 17th and 6th in the Vedado area of Havana.  When you go, smile at the friendly gentleman that keeps John’s glasses.

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Callejon de Hamel

Central Havana, Cuba is home to Callejon de Hamel; a short street lined with murals and unusual artwork.  The focus is on Santeria, the combining of Yoruba religion from Africa with Catholicism.

Callejon de Hamel in Havana, Cuba

Callejon de Hamel in Havana, Cuba

When the African slave was forced to accept Catholicism he blended the spirits of his religion with the saints of the catholic religion.

Visit video.nationalgeographic.com for an example of this blending.  In the search on the site type santeria.  St. Lazarus, a healer of the sick is blended with Babalu Aye, the spirit of good health.  Santeria does involve sacrifices of healthy animals to keep the spirits happy and fed.  Santeria uses natural healing using herbs and divination through rituals including animal sacrifice, offerings, and altar building; music, dance and possession trance.

We visited Callejon de Hamel and want to show you the artwork there, much of it done by Salvador Gonzales.

Callejon de Hamel

Callejon de Hamel

Callejon de Hamel

Callejon de Hamel

chapel

chapel

Zeb on a grashopper??

Zeb on a grashopper??

Callejon de Hamel

Callejon de Hamel

Mural at Callejon de Hamel

Mural at Callejon de Hamel

You can purchase items from this lady.

Santeria store at Callejon de Hamel

Santeria store at Callejon de Hamel

Mom and I used national geographic and wikipedia to verify facts.  You may appreciate the information there also.  Many times you will experience dance performances at Callejon de Hamel.   We did not, but you may.  This is a very colorful street and Cuban experience you won’t want to miss.  Go and enjoy it all.

Organic Farming in Alamar, Cuba

On the outskirts of Havana, Cuba organic farming is thriving.  Called Organoponicos we visited Vivero Alamar.   The day we visited, it was raining.  Rain and farm mean mud.  We were given plastic bags for boots,

Zeb the duck on a bag boot

Zeb the duck on a bag boot

to protect our shoes, the farm, the bus and the restaurant preparing our lunch.  Organic farming was begun as a necessity.  After the break up of the Soviet Bloc, Cuba lost all economic support and many were in danger of starvation.  With no chemicals and no machinery available, organic farms with human labor seemed to be the only choice.  Now, this farm is world famous and a leader in demonstrating organic farming.

To conserve time and space, 90% of plants start in greenhouses.

Greenhouse

Greenhouse

This farm was started by Miguel Salcines and three others in 1997.  Beginning with 8,611 square feet Vivero Alamar now encompasses 25 acres.

The farm has only 2 machines and hires 180 employees to do most of the work.

Much work is done by human labor

Much work is done by human labor

They were leaders in hiring women and the elderly.  The farm pays more than usual state salaries for 7 hours daily, 6 day per week.  Because of the higher salary employees are happy to work here.   This farm is also teaching people to eat more vegetables, even cauliflower, beets and broccoli.

Preparing sedlings

Preparing plants

Vivero Alamar began growing vegetables

Vegetable field

Vegetable field

but has now added animals, fruits, herbs and medicinal plants.  They are also growing Moringua.  This Asian plant is reported to have wonderful health benefits.  October 24, 2012 Fidel Castro praised moringua for nutritional benefits and encouraged the moringua plant in Cuba.  Visit en.cubadebate.cu to read more of Fidel Castro’s opinions.

Our group benefited from a very nice and knowledgeable guide through the farm.  We liked her a lot and she wore a Woodstock shirt.  They even sell organic tomato paste in sterilized, recycled beer bottles.

Fields are well kept

Well kept fields

Well kept raised beds

and Vivero Alamar annually plants 3 million seedlings, harvests 300 tons of vegetables annually and sells to 50,000 customers each year.  In addition to our visit, some information comes from www.farmcuba.org a fantastic website developed by 6 students in Elon University’s Interactive Media Master’s program over 3 week in January 2013.  If you are interested in this organic farm, I believe that this is a great resource.  We also liked www.elonpendulum.com

I, Zeb the duck enjoyed this visit and think all of you would also like to visit this organic farm.  It was fun and we all want to learn to eat and live healthier.

Hotel Nacional de Cuba–Military Museum

This hotel, Hotel Nacional de Cuba, is in the Vedado district of Havana.  The hotel is on the north coast of Cuba, overlooking the Malecon and the Caribbean Sea.  Havana is 90 miles south of Key West, Florida.  I, Zeb the Duck, am reminding you of these facts, to partially explain the small museum here and the historical importance.  In October 1962 the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States reached what is often considered the worst moment.

Missile crisis??
Missile crisis??

In the United States we call it the Cuban Missile Crisis and in Cuba it is referred to as the Missile Crisis.

This is part of what I saw in the lawn of my hotel.

Entrance to underground bunker
Entrance to underground bunker

The Cueva Taganana is the underground bunker on the grounds of the Hotel National de Cuba.

Cueva Taganana
Cueva Taganana

Our last morning at the hotel, the cave was open while sweeping out excess rain.  The gentleman said we could go inside.

Inside Cueva Taganana.  Map and posters
Inside Cueva Taganana. Map and posters
The Soviet position
The Soviet position
Fidel Castro's position
Fidel Castro’s position

This is serious stuff.  Even ducks know this.   This Cueva Taganana is now a museum and here is another reminder of past trouble between Cuba and the United States.

Bay of Pigs
Bay of Pigs
Near the underground bunker
Near the underground bunker

This cave has been an important symbol to Cuba since the 16th century when it served as a refuge for an Indian named Taganana.  The cave has been changed to tunnels for the defense of Havana.  In 1885 15 cannons were placed on the grounds as part of a Spanish artillery regiment.  This is a big cannon!

Wow!  This is big especially for a small duck
Wow! This is big especially for a small duck
Still tension between the United States and Cuba
Still tension between the United States and Cuba

Our hotel is near the Hotel Havana Libre.

Hotel Habana Libre, former Hilton Hotel
Hotel Habana Libre, former Hilton Hotel

This was a new Hilton hotel but in 1959 it was taken over by Fidel Castro, nine months after opening.  Fidel Castro renamed the hotel and ruled Cuba from the 24th floor for a few months.

There has been many problems between the United States and Cuba and several still exist.  Ducks don’t best involved in politics, but the people I met in Cuba were very nice to me and I was very nice to them.  The people and ducks can get along; maybe the governments will one day.

Let's all sit down and talk about peaceful relations

Let’s all sit down and talk about peaceful relations

The hotel offers tours of the hotel and grounds daily.  We were on other tours during the scheduled time, but I would recommend taking the tour of Hotel Nacional de Cuba if you have the time.  This is a fascinating place and the amount of history is astonishing.

Hotel Nacional de Cuba Havana Cuba

I, Zeb the Duck and my group of humans are staying at the historic Hotel Nacional de Cuba in Havana.

Our hotel.  The Hotel Nacional de Cuba

This hotel opened in 1930 when Cuba was a prime tourist destination from the United States.  The location and the manicured lawns of the hotel are stunning.

Many famous people have stayed here and many pictures adorn the walls in the bar and other areas of the hotel.  This jukebox is part of a tribute to Nat King Cole (according to Wikipedia).

In our hotel bar area

In our hotel bar area

Here is a statue honoring a musician,

Musician and Zeb in Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Musician and Zeb in Hotel Nacional de Cuba

and maybe me, Zeb the Duck?

Here I am with another friend, Bif.

Zeb and Bif overlooking the Caribbean Sea

Zeb and Bif overlooking the Caribbean Sea

We are in the bar area overlooking the Caribbean Sea.  One day in the bar area, mom and her friend put me on the bar with these colorful drinks. The bartender saw me, smiled and said “Ducks are welcome here.”

Ducks welcome here!

Ducks welcome here!

I feel so happy at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba.

The Hotel Nacional de Cuba has the Parisien nightclub.

This club and show are in our hotel.  Let's go!

This club and show are in our hotel. Let’s go!

One evening we saw the cabaret show.  These photos just don’t do justice to the show,

The show

The show

but view these and use your imagination.

We liked this show

We liked this show

The show was very nice and we enjoyed it completely.

The manicured lawn and location of the Hotel Nacional de Cuba make it a popular location for weddings.  This is a happy couple.

Wedding at Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Wedding at Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Here I am on a table overlooking the water.

Zeb waiting for refreshments

Zeb waiting for refreshments

As we walked around the grounds, I met this peacock.

This peacock is my new friend.

This peacock is my new friend.

He has beautiful colors and is friendly.  Next time I want to show the military museum at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba.

Hamlet in Denver

Soapy Smith Duck and his mom invited my mom and me, Zeb the Duck, to see Hamlet.  I was so excited.  Our moms love plays and love the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, but Soapy and Zeb have never been here before.

We went to a matinee.  Before the performance Soapy and Zeb posed for photos.

Soapy and Zeb on foot of tall dancers

Soapy and Zeb on foot of tall dancers

These dancers are really tall!!  Zeb and Soapy are standing on a foot—the foot on the left side of this photo.  We look like yellow dots.  Here we are, Soapy on the foot and Zeb on the ground.

Really big feet!

Really big feet!

This is one entrance to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.  We ducks love the roof.

One entrance to Denver Center for the Performing Arts

One entrance to Denver Center for the Performing Arts

This center has multiple theaters and artwork.  Here is one statue in the complex.

Statue at Denver Center for the Performing Arts

Statue at Denver Center for the Performing Arts

We like this place.

Inside the building near the entrance we saw these small tables.

Near theater showing Hamlet.

Near theater showing Hamlet.  First performed in 1600.

Little known facts about Hamlet are here.  It is very nice to learn unusual facts about our show.  We really like Lion King, so we think we will like Hamlet also.

Time to enter the theater, but mom said no photos during the performance.  We loved this performance.  Maybe our moms will bring us here again.  They are talking about seeing another performance.

After the show, some of the actors and other people instrumental in this production talked to the audience.

Some actors and staff talking to audience

Some actors and staff talking to audience

They were very interesting and informative.

Here we are, by the statue of King Hamlet, the very King that was murdered in this play.

Soapy and Zeb with King Hamlet

Soapy and Zeb with King Hamlet

This was an exciting day for ducks and moms.  We hope you will see Hamlet, or some other live performance.  The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is beautiful, but if you don’t live in Denver, see a live performance in your area of the world.  You will like it!

Announcing Hamlet.  Soapy and Zeb in lower left.

Announcing Hamlet. Soapy and Zeb in lower left.

Happy Presidents Day

Colorado Traveling Ducks and their humans wish you a very Happy Presidents Day holiday.  We appreciate and enjoy the work and sacifices  of George Washington and other founding fathers and presidents for the government they envisioned and created.  We enjoy the freedoms of the this, the greatest country on earth.  May you enjoy and defend your freedoms today and every day.