After four days in the posh Nacional with its broad verandas and Cuban music, its view of El Morro across the bay, overlooking the Malecón and around the corner from the Coppelia Ice Cream Park, we loaded up Coach #425 and headed east to Matanzas and Varadero for a look at not-Havana.
A neat little city, Matanzas was still sparkling from a morning rain shower, and instantly the pace and the temperature notched down several degrees from Havana. At the baseball park, retired outfielder Rigoberto Rosique, a hall-of-famer from the Cuban League, gave us a history and showed us around the small museum. Among the photos I recognized Tony Oliva, a Cuban ballplayer who played for the Minnesota Twins in my day. A batch of kids about nine years old, came in with their mitts for a lesson (the girls’ mitts were bright pink). Vivian said it was part of their schooling. I summoned the courage to try my rudimentary Spanish and asked one boy if he liked “beisbol.” He looked puzzled and said, “Huh?” I guess my Spanish needs more work. One of the great pictures of the trip that I did NOT get was all the kids riding back to school in a horse drawn wagon. Continue reading
For the last week in May, lapping over into June, our Roadscholar group of twenty-two was introduced to arts, music and dancing of Cuba. Or more important, the Cuban people who perform it. Our visit coincided with their Biennial (they say, “bee-en-ally”) Art Festival, so art was showing up everywhere along the public walkways and plazas.
Our first official outing took us to the National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana where the gorgeous Danelle gave us a tour of the history of Cuba through art. She introduced us to a dozen or so artists’ work and explained what in the contemporary art world influenced their style and content and what was happening socially, politically and culturally in Cuba that was showing up in their work. She pointed out some “subversive” themes (like homosexuality) that would have been censored had the censors recognized them. I have never been on a museum tour that brought all of that together in such a meaningful way. (I’m always the one with a puzzled look, thinking “Is that a mountain or breast? and ”Why?”)
We asked Danelle about her background and she said she was a recent graduate in Art History from the University of Havana. Education in Cuba is free from preschool through university (for those who qualify and want a university degree), but graduates must dedicate three years of community service in their field to repay costs of their education. Continue reading
Fidel and I go way back. In 1958 he was hanging out in the hills near Havana waiting for the best opportunity to finally undo the despotic Batista regime and rescue Cuba for the Cuban people. Havana was known as a retreat for New York gamblers and mafia bosses, drugs and prostitution. A third of the island nation was owned by foreign corporations like the United Fruit Company and the rest by other wealthy landowners and the Cuban elite. Most Cubans were poor and getting poorer. They were the ones Fidel was fighting for.
I was graduating from college, moving to Minneapolis and getting married. What I knew of Cuba was Desi Arnaz and Guys and Dolls. But now Cuba was in the newspaper (we didn’t have a TV yet). So on New Years 1959 Fidel and his guys swooped into Havana sending the Americans, wealthy Cubans (and eventually many of the professional classes) fleeing to Miami. Batista escaped to the Dominican Republic. By that time not even the U.S. government wanted him. It was exciting even in faraway Minnesota. It seemed like a good thing for the Cuban people. A few days later I had my first baby. Big changes afoot for everyone. Continue reading
I’ve been on a bit of a retro binge lately. It began one evening when I went looking for some light television fare to end my day. But what I found was too violent, too raunchy, too depressingly real. I remembered how I miss Carol Burnett and “Get Smart”, “The Waltons”, “All in the Family”. So I wandered onto Netflix and found old reruns of — “The Rockford Files”.
You may remember the series. It stars James Garner as Jim Rockford, private eye — cute, irreverent, “open to anything except marriage or murder.” Continue reading
David Brooks, the columnist from the New York Times, has been philosophical of late. Last week he wrote a piece on finding the purpose of your life. He started it like this: “Every reflective person sooner or later faces certain questions: What is the purpose of my life? How do I find a moral compass so I can tell right from wrong? What should I do day by to day to feel fulfillment and deep joy?”
Weighty questions, these. Questions that can and should be considered every day of our lives with answers that keep changing and evolving. We all come squalling into this world with one purpose — to LIVE! From then on we experience life, make our choices and suffer or enjoy the consequences. Stuff happens. Purpose? Fulfillment? Deep joy? Continue reading
My Dear Mamá Cat:
I hope this finds you and sister Jasmine well settled after the unseemly roust from our home in the alley behind the Taco Shop. Much has happened to me since then and Continue reading
I have forty-three drawers, twenty-three cupboards, nine closets, three chests, four bookcases and one garage, and I’m on a mission to clear out all of them. I’m not sure where this impulse Continue reading
I was just settling down to my soda crackers with peanut butter when the phone rang. It was my friend Maureen. “Hi, how are you?” she says. She always starts her phone conversations that way. “They’ve started a drum circle that meets on Sunday. Why don’t you come down and go with us. It’s really fun.”
Hmmm, I thought. Another Maureen thing.
Maureen has a knack for finding unusual, amusing things to do Continue reading
MMMM, roasted carrot salad. This looks good, kind of French. I imagine a slim wraith of girl (maybe she looks like Audrey Hepburn) bicycling in southern France, her white organdy dress fluttering behind her as she rides. She is meeting someone — Gregory Peck? — at a small cafe —
But I digress. I know I have some carrots here somewhere. The recipe says: Continue reading
All of us at Salt River Publishing are pleased to announce:
This book is delightful – as you can guess from the cover. Rosemary Rawson captures the challenges of getting older, but with a lively sense of humor and quiet wisdom. She makes you chuckle and gives you a positive perspective.
Great read for women in the 60s+ age group! Do you know any? Get it for them for Christmas… or New Year’s… or any time of year. They’ll love you for it!