Cristobal Colon Cemetery in Havana, Cuba

We are going to the cemetery today.  This cemetery is named for Christopher Columbus.  The 140-acre cemetery has more than 500 major mausoleums, chapels and family vaults.  It is one of the greatest historical cemeteries of the world and the second most important in Latin America, second only to La Recoleta in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

I stayed on the bus.

Zeb the Duck's view from the bus

Zeb the Duck’s view from the bus

Mom didn’t think I should be posing on these monuments.  Here is some of what we saw.

Monument

Monument

Another monument

Another monument

One of the most famous tombs is for Senora Amelia Goyri or popularly called La Milagrosa.

La Milagrosa

La Milagrosa

When approaching, one must knock 4 times with the iron ring and when leaving, walk backwards.

This tradition was started by her husband and is continued today.  The senora and baby died during childbirth and were buried.  When the bodies were later exhumed, the baby was in the mother’s arms.  The baby had been buried at the mother’s feet.

This is main chapel for the cemetery.

Main chapel

Main chapel

Near the chapel this lady was restoring some other monuments.  Very slow, tedious work, but very important.

Restoration in progress

Restoration in progress

Many of these sites have been neglected as many of the families now live outside of Cuba.

In this cemetery there is a 75 foot memorial to firefighters.  Also two monuments to baseball players.  There is one bartender buried here.  He was Hemingway’s bartender.  Here are more photos.

Monument

Monument

Monument

Monument

Space in this cemetery is a a premium, so after three years remains are removed from their tombs, boxed and placed in a storage building.

A family vault

A family vault

And here is the bat.

The bat

The bat

This was not the cemeteries I see in Colorado.  I hope you see this soon.  It is beautiful.

Cigars made in Cuba

Today Alejandro told us we could be real Cubans.  We went to Casa de Habano.

Entering Casa de Habano

Entering Casa de Habano

I, Zeb will be a real Cuban duck??

First we watched this lady roll a cigar.

She is ready to roll

She is ready to roll

She has been rolling cigars for many years and is very good.  She put different varieties of tobacco leaves in her hand and arranged them just so.

Blend of tobacco leaves to form bundle

Blend of tobacco leaves to form bundle

These leaves, or bundle, are then rolled in the binder.  The original hand full of leaves makes the blend.  The binder is to hold them together.  Her hands are very busy and she knows exactly what to do.  The binder is held in place with a very small amount of vegetable paste.  The cigar is placed in a mold.

Cigar remains in mold for hours

Cigar remains in mold for hours

This is a wooden form of two parts, which is then placed in a press.  The mold properly shapes the cigar and helps allow proper airflow while smoking.

After several hours in the mold, the cigar is rolled again.  One of the best leaves will be the wrapper.

Cigar rolled into final wrapper.

Cigar rolled into final wrapper.

The wrapper has a good flavor, complementing the blend of tobacco inside the cigar, and the wrapper gives the cigar a good appearance.

After the cigar rolling demonstration, we look around the store.  Several famous people have purchased and smoked cigars here.

Famous former patrons

Famous former patrons

Casa de Habana sells many kinds of cigars, cigar accessories and Cuban rum.

Cedar cigar holders

Cedar cigar holders

We leave the main store and enter a shopping mall courtyard.   These girl musicians entertain us.

We enjoy listening to these musicians

We enjoy listening to these musicians

Alejandro tells us that this is time for us to be real Cubans.  We sample Cuban rum.  Very good but we don’t drink much.  Soon we receive small cups of strong Cuba coffee.  This is also good.  Mom doesn’t usually drink coffee but she liked it.  Did not have a bitter taste to her.

Our third step to being real Cubans is smoking a cigar.  A gentleman shows us how to light a cigar.

Light cigar with a burning strip of cedar

Light cigar with a burning strip of cedar

Use thin strips of cedar to light the cigar.  Cedar has no resin, so the flavor of the cigar will not be compromised.  Cigar lighting is not easy.  But tourists are persistent and the cigars are lit and being smoked.  These four cigar-smoking ladies are friends of Zeb the Duck.

My friends are cigar-smoking ladies.  Wow!

My friends are cigar-smoking ladies. Wow!  Deborah, MaryAnn, Susan and Alex

They look good with these cigars.  So Cuban!

After smoking and drinking, we explore a little of this mall.

Ready to climb stairs and visit stores

Ready to climb stairs and visit stores

There are three levels of stores.

Looking don to smoking and drinking area

Looking down to smoking and drinking area

Looking down the smoking and drinking area is pretty.  We spent some time and money in this paper mache store.

Lots of paper mache.  Zeb on top shelf

Lots of paper mache. Zeb on top shelf

I like this store.

First paper mache shoe for Zeb the Duck

First paper mache shoe for Zeb the Duck

Soon it is time to return to the bus and head for our hotel.  This was a great stop.  We had fun here.

Back in Havana with Zeb the Duck

My humans and I returned to Havana.  We are staying at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba.

Our hotel

Our hotel

I have so much to tell you about this hotel, but it must wait until another day.  Today we visit a senior center with a childcare facility.  The seniors come here for day activities.  And they are an active group!  Then we will walk to an elementary school.

Santos drove us to an older section of Havana.  Walking to the senior center, this is some of what I observed.

Havana street

Havana street

Older area of Havana

Older area of Havana

It rained last night, so we still have some water in the streets.

Arriving at the senior center, we entered this room.  The people were dancing and talking.

A Havana senior center

A Havana senior center

There was music.  It was like a party.  Some of the humans in my group joined the dancing and

Senior center

Senior center

some visited with the senior Cubans.

After awhile, we climbed the stairs and talked to other people and saw the children from the daycare.

Day care at senior center

Day care at senior center

From the second floor we enjoyed the view

This is a beautiful building

This is a beautiful building

of the interior of the building.

Leaving the senior center,

Leaving senior center

Leaving senior center

we walked to the elementary school.  On the narrow streets, we saw cars, bicycles and horses.  You can see that Havana, like many old cities, has some restored buildings and some that are crumbling and falling apart.

Old buildings are difficult to maintain.

Old buildings are difficult to maintain.

I liked this man and the cart with fresh vegetables.

Fresh vegetables available here.

Fresh vegetables available here.

We were able to visit Escuela Primaria Carlos Manuel de Cespedes or Carlos Manuel de Cespedes Elementary School.   We saw these students playing in the courtyard.

Kids playing

Kids playing

Photographs of national heroes were on the wall inside the school.

Cuban national heroes

Cuban national heroes

We saw these students being tutored.

Tutoring

Tutoring

These girls loved posing for photos.

Children posing

Children posing

They loved to see the pictures of themselves.

After lunch, we walked toward the Palacio del Teatro Lirico Nacional.    Along the way, we saw the former Bacardi headquarters.

Former Bacardi headquarters with bat on top

Former Bacardi headquarters with bat on top

Bacardi rum was started in Cuba in the 1800s.  They moved the headquarters to Hamilton, Bermuda after the Castro regime took some assets.    On top of the building is the Bacardi bat.  The bat became the logo because the bat is good for sugar cane growers.  Also one of the first buildings had bats in the rafters.

Our private concert at the Palacio del Teatro Lirico Nacional was on the second floor.  Mom and I loved these stained glass windows near the stairs.

Beautiful windows

Beautiful windows

They are beautiful.  This group sang for us.  We all enjoyed the music.

We enjoyed the concert

We enjoyed the concert

These talented singers perform in many countries around the world.  We are happy they were in Havana when we were.

Most of the humans brought gifts for the senior center and for the elementary school.  They were happy to receive our gifts and we were happy to help them.  I like the people of Cuba.  Check back to see more of my Cuban experience.

Fusterlandia near Havana, Cuba

Near Havana, Cuba we were speechless at Fusterlandia.  This is the home of Jose Rodriguez Fuster,

Entrance to Fusterlandia

Entrance to Fusterlandia

affectionately referred to as Fuster.  Fuster, a Cuban from a small fishing village, is an artist.

About 30 years ago Fuster started remaking his home and his neighborhood.

First view entering Fusterlandia

First view entering Fusterlandia

He spent time in Europe and was inspired by Gaudi in Barcelona (La Familia Sagrada and Casa Batllo) and by Brancusi in Romania.  I want to share some photos of Fusterlandia with you.

Looking down at pool

Looking down at pool

Big guy

Big guy

What a clock

What a clock

All this artwork exhausts me.  I am just a little duck

All this artwork exhausts me. I am just a little duck

According to www.havana-cultura.com more than 80 neighbors have allowed Fuster to use their homes as his canvas.

He puts his art everywhere

He puts his art everywhere

This is an unforgettable neighborhood.

Mom and I saw some little boys with their moms.  We asked the moms if we could give them small high bounce balls and butterscotch candy.  Moms said yes and the boys were happy.  One of our friends had a baseball to give the boys.  Cuban people love baseball.  Making people happy  is fun!

Fuster sells much of his work and much of that money he puts back into the neighborhood.

Fuster's art throughout his neighborhood

Fuster’s art throughout his neighborhood

We were amazed and really liked Fusterlandia.  We hope you will visit Fusterlandia when you are in Havana.  It is really a place to see.

Las Terrazas Eco Village in Cuba with Zeb the Duck

I, Zeb the Duck and the humans are riding to Las Terrazas.   Our first stop at Las Terrazas is by the lake for orientation and welcome beverages.

Las Terrazas Cuba

Las Terrazas Cuba

Lake at Las Terrazas Cuba

Lake at Las Terrazas Cuba

This is a beautiful location.

Las Terrazas is a Unesco Biosphere Reserve.  Started in 1968 as a reforestation project and eco-village.   This is now a popular day trip from Havana.  You can stay longer at Hotel Moka located on the property.

Our Cuban guide, Alejandro, told us it started as a small village with limited number of people allowed to live here.  The village has grown, but the number of residents is still limited.

We drive to Cafetal Buenavista,

Cafetal Buenavista

Cafetal Buenavista

the restored ruins of a 19th century coffee plantation built in 1801 by French refugees from Haiti.  This is Cuba’s oldest coffee plantation.

The restaurant has a view of the estate.

Beautiful, but where is the food??

Beautiful, but where is the food??

This was used to grind coffee beans by hand.

Grind coffee beans by hand

Grind coffee beans by hand

A long and difficult process.  The kitchen for the restaurant is located here in a separate building.

Kitchen is out here

Kitchen is out here

Strolling through the coffee plantation I noticed this tree with red bark.

Red bark.  Pretty

Red bark. Pretty

Red bark on trees is new to this duck.  These stairs lead to the grinding stone to process coffee beans.

Stairs to coffee processing area

Stairs to coffee bean processing area

This huge tajona (grinding stone) was used to extract coffee beans from their shells.

to extract coffee beans from shells

to extract coffee beans from shells

After the tajona, the coffee beans were sun dried on huge platforms.

Platform to sun dry coffee beans

Platform to sun dry coffee beans

Leaving the coffee bean processing area, this basket caught my eye.

Very convenient basket

Very convenient basket

I think it is so cute!

We had lunch at this farmhouse.

Lunch was served here.  Yum!

Lunch was served here. Yum!

The food was so good!  We had black beans and rice and ropa vieja.  I love ropa vieja.  The shredded beef is seasoned, but not too spicy.  This is what I always order in Cuban restaurants.  Yum!  And, we had fresh coconut ice cream.  This was my favorite meal.  But, mom did not take pictures of this restaurant.  I don’t know why???

Near the house with the restaurant, I sat on these rocks.

Zeb the Duck likes these rocks

Zeb the Duck likes these rocks

Duck on a rock

Duck on a rock

They are fantastic for ducks…and humans.  Las Terrazas is wonderful.  I still have so much to tell you, but it will wait for another day.  Be sure to read the next part of Las Terrazas here at Coloradotravelingducks.com.  I will have more duck stories next time.

Plazas of Havana with Zeb

Zeb the Duck and his group of humans explored 2 more plazas.  So old and historic and so peaceful.  First we discovered the Plaza de San Francisco de Asisi.   The Basilica is now a museum and concert hall.  Two to three times weekly choral and chamber music is performed.  The inside has excellent acoustics.

This plaza is known for the beautiful Fuente de los Leones (Lions Fountain) which was built in 1836 by Giuseppe Gaggini.

Lions Fountain

Lions Fountain

On one side of the basilica is the statue of El Caballero de Paris (The Gentleman of Paris).

Rub his beard for good luck

Rub his beard for good luck

People rub his beard for good luck.

This statue is near the entrance.

Near Basilica of St Francis

Near Basilica of St Francis

The plaza is so peaceful that couples get married here.

Beautiful wedding

Beautiful wedding

Horse carriage rides are available also.  We did not have enough time for a ride.

Ride in a horse carriage

Ride in a horse carriage

The streets here are rather narrow.

We strolled down narrow streets

We strolled down narrow streets

Walking through San Francisco Plaza we head for Plaza Vieja (old plaza).  We discovered this aqueduct built between 1565 and 1592.

Aquaduct in Havana

Aqueduct in Havana

In 1982 Old Havana was declared a Cultural Heritage of Humanity and restoration began.  Now this plaza is full of people

Plaza Vieja

Plaza Vieja

and has many restaurants, an aquarium, a planetarium, and the Chocolate Museum.

Chocolate Museum!!

Chocolate Museum!!

Really the chocolate museum is more a café with reasonable prices and decadent chocolate.  I even saw a lady’s high heeled shoe made of chocolate.  Go inside purchase chocolate and relax at a small marble table.  Yum!

I, Zeb the Duck, liked this street with café tables, not cars or horses.

Cafe in the street

Cafe in the street

We saw little cafes like this everywhere.

Let's have a snack

Let’s have a snack

I like the plazas of Old Havana.  You will too.

Havana, Cuba with Zeb the Duck

Mom and Zeb the Duck are in Havana, Cuba.  We took a charter flight from Miami to Havana.  The charter flight was an American Airline flight with an American Airline flight crew.

We are in Havana, Cuba

We are in Havana, Cuba

After customs and immigration we met Alejandro, our Cuban guide.  He was very nice and spoke English.  Santos is our bus driver. Connie is our Friendly Planet group leader.   They will be with us all week.

Our tour to Cuba was through Friendly Planet and was a people to people tour.  Both the Cuban and American governments agree to permit these tours.  Mom changed money at the airport.  Cuba has a dual currency system.  As tourists we use CUC currency (1 CUC is about equal to US $1).  The Cuban people are paid in CUP currency.  Each CUP is equivalent to 4 U.S. cents.  Visit www.friendlyplanet.com for information and reservations to travel to Cuba from the United States.

Alejandro and Santos took us to the Used Booksellers Market.

Used Booksellers Market in Plaza de Armas, Havana

Used Booksellers Market in Plaza de Armas, Havana

This is big outdoor market located in the Plaza de Armas, and is rather famous.  Used books are sold and also old postage stamps are for sale.

Old stamps for sale at this market

Old stamps for sale at this market

The venders were very friendly and talked to us with a mixture of Spanish and English.

Nearby we saw this statue of Carlos Manuel de Cespedes.

Statue of Carlos Manuel de Cespedes

Statue of Carlos Manuel de Cespedes

In 1868 Cespedes gave the Grito de Yara (shout of Yara) beginning the 10-year war.  This was the first effort to free slaves and gain independence from Spain.

These are some photos of typical street scenes in Cuba.

Streets of Havana

Streets of Havana

Havana street

Havana street

Havana

Havana after rain

I, Zeb the Duck, and my group of humans traveled around Havana.   Santos drove us to Trinidad, with stops in Santa Clara, Sancti Spiritus and Cienfuegos before returning to Havana.  We saw so much that I will be telling you about Cuba for a few weeks.  I hope you will stay with me here at ColoradoTravelingDucks.com