Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas at the Beach

On a blogging break until sometime after the New Year. Photos were taken at Playa Santa Maria, east of Havana. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Happy holidays

Along the Malecon: On a blogging break until around the year's end.

Cuban exchange rate: 1 CUC = 1 photo

Snap a picture of someone smoking a cigar or telling fortunes in Old Havana and he or she will likely hit you up for a tip. These are some of the regulars who cater to the tourist crowd.

Bay of Havana at dusk

As the anniversary approaches, Che and Camilo hanging out at the Museum of the Revolution

It is incredible: Cuba marks the 50th anniversary of the revolution on Jan. 1.

The Miami Herald has begun a series of stories on the anniversary. Today's story was headlined: Cuba's revolution at 50: gains fade, despair endures.
On Friday, the Herald ran an Andres Oppenheimer piece that said, After 50 years, Cuba has little to show.

No doubt, supporters of the revolution have another view. One pro-Castro Web site on the anniversary is here. Another site marks key events of 1958.

Yet to be toppled: Dominos in Cuba

Baseball may be Cuba's national pastime, but dominos is the national game. Cubans have their own rules and their own style of play. A sturdy playing surface is helpful because Cubans play with great enthusiasm, slamming dominos on the table with a loud slap that echoes through the neighborhood.
A blog called Three Guys from Miami posted the basics of Cuban dominos here.

Victory is mine...

Cuba to George Bush: Thanks!

Billboards in Cuba are political, not commercial. This example near the U.S. Interests Section in Havana says, "Thanks, Mr. Bush. We're already vaccinated."

High fashion in Havana

The latest in fashion from Cuban designer Mario Freixas. Dec. 11 photo by Javier Galeano of the Associated Press. Source: Cuaderno de Cuba

International cooperation: Cuba routinely offers help in fight against illegal drugs

Cuba has tough anti-drug laws and has offered to help reduce the flow of illegal drugs into the United States. These photos were taken during a press tour highlighting Cuba's counter-narcotics efforts.
Officers taking part in press tours always seem to have this geez-I'd-rather-not-be-here look.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

La gordita

Annual Pilgrimage: They crawl until their skin is bloody

Quietly, patiently, they shove themselves along dusty roads and asphalt highways. Some crawl on the ground dragging huge rocks tied to their angles.

Every December, the faithful make their way inch by painful inch to the Sanctuary of San Lázaro. Thousands of Cuban pilgrims converge on the sanctuary and a nearby church, Iglesia de San Lázaro, to give thanks or ask San Lázaro to grant a favor or a miracle.

Moon Travel calls the church a "must see" attraction. It says:
San Lázaro is the patron saint of the sick, and is an immensely popular figure throughout Cuba (in santería, his avatar is Babalú Ayé). His symbol is the crutch. His stooped figure is usually covered in sores, and in effigy he goes about attended by his two dogs. Limbless beggars and other unfortunates crowd at the gates and plead for a charitable donation.

The sanctuary and church are near Rincón, southwest of Santiago de las Vegas. The complex includes Los Cocos, a sanatorium for leprosy patients and AIDS victims.

The yearly pilgrimage takes place on Dec. 17, but many people start making their way to the church days or weeks in advance. Cubans watching the procession often give the pilgrims donations.

Seeing the pilgrims dragging those rocks for mile after mile is an incredible sight and shows the lengths people go for their faith.

Photo (s) of the Week

Past Photo (s) of the Week

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cuban artist paints tasty morsels

I love Cuban artists and Roberto Fabelo is one of my favorites. He's an original, a mad genius with a paint brush. And the figures he creates often wind up in bowls and in vases, sitting there like appetizers ready to be devoured.
I visited his Havana studio several years ago and photographed him with one of many self-portraits he has created.

Bird Lady of Havana

I spotted this nice lady hanging out at the crafts market in Old Havana. Her bird was well trained and content to use its owner's head as a perch.

People in Motion

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Yoani: Why gays and not gusanos?

Interesting post in Generacion Y. Yoani Sanchez asked Mariela Castro Espin whether the fight for tolerance of gays was going to extend to people who hold different political and ideological views.

Mariela, described by the New York Times as Cuba's "premier sexologist," said she couldn't answer the question.
I don't know because I don't work in that area, she said. The area of ideology and politics is outside my responsibility.
Reasonable answer. Mariela Castro is director of CENESEX, Cuba's National Center for Sexual Education. Politics isn't her thing.

But it was also a valid question. Sanchez said if it's no longer acceptable to call a gay person "sick," then "why is the adjective 'counter-revolutionary' still used for those who think differently."
"For me," she wrote, "it's as serious to call someone a 'queer' as it is to call an inconformist a 'worm.'"
For years, loyalists of Fidel Castro have called their foes "worms."

That debate aside, it is great to see Mariela Castro, the daughter of President Raul Castro, push for greater rights and tolerance of gays, transvestites and transexuals. There's a lot of things this world needs and more tolerance is one of them.

BTW, photos here were taken at transvestite fashion show in Havana. I posted photos from the same show in October.