• Language and Culture in the Dominican Republic and Cuba

A Day of Fine Arts

Wednesday

We all had breakfast in the hotel before leaving for another lecture about Cuban culture with respect to art and music at ICAP (Instituo Cubano de Amistad con Los Pueblos). It was interesting to get a more in-depth view of the influences to Cuban culture and it helped prepare us for our visit to the art museum later in the day.

After the lecture, we headed to the Miramar neighborhood (where a lot of the ambassadors live) for our dance class. The class was taught at El Chévere de la Salsa—Club Almendares. When we arrived, we were told that we would be learning Cuban salsa both today and tomorrow. We started with the very basic step and then gradually added variations. We linked each step together that we learned to make a mini dance routine. We only did solo work today, but tomorrow we will be putting what we have learned with partners.

After dance and lunch, we went to the Museo de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts) and got a tour of all the works in the museum. It is a collection of the works of Cuban artists, which starts in the early years and works its way up to present time with contemporary works of art. It was very interesting to hear about the different artists and see their work in person. We talked a little bit about some of the art in the lecture earlier that morning, but it was even better to experience it firsthand.

We left the art museum after an hour and half or so and made our way to La Habana Vieja (Old Havana). This is the part of the city that existed first and it is the area with a majority of the history of Havana. We didn’t have an official guide, so our tour coordinator/guide walked with us and talked about some stuff. It all went fairly quickly and we didn’t get to go into the big places, like churches and museums, because they were all closed by the time we got there.

We did go into various hotels on our tour, including Hotel Ambos Mundos where Ernest Hemingway sometimes stayed when he came to Havana. There are several walls dedicated to Hemingway with pictures of him as well as an enlarged copy of his signature that is framed on the wall.

After viewing the hotels, we stopped at the Plaza del Armas. It is a large building where certain government happenings take/took place. I am not entirely clear on what it is used for today or if you can go in it, but we just looked at it. If it is a museum, it was closed by the time we got to it.

There were also some other historical places nearby, including a fortress, a statue in the park, a house that has a tree very significant to Cuban history, and we had a great view of the malecón and the fortresses across the water from the malecón. It was so beautiful. All of the architecture in Old Havana is so cool and reminds me a lot of Europe. There are so many buildings with arches and fabulous, grandiose cathedrals.

After we walked all over Old Havana, we walked back to the malecón to catch the bus. We got back to the hotel and had dinner in the same restaurant as the previous few days. They keep us so busy while we are here that we are all having a hard time staying awake during the day. It is safe to say that we are all going to bed early while we are here!