Cuba: A Firsthand Account

George Metes and Jean Sanborn report on their favorite experiences during their recent trip to Cuba.

On arriving in Havana we were introduced to “habaneros” at the Sunday Callejon de Hamel Santoria celebration, which was the perfect way to introduce us, people-to-people, to the creativity and energy of the Cubans. On the planned itinerary we visited several artists’ studios, the Ceramics Museum and the large Fine Arts Museum, dancers, singers, and lively kids performing, thus seeing a range of art and learning how the Cuban artists interact with the larger art world.

Informal opportunities to interact with Cubans were plentiful. We had enough free time in Havana to get out and meet people and explore areas off the main tourist track.  We already knew the generally cheerful energy of the Cuban people; we discovered how safe and clean Havana is despite the crumbling infrastructure.

The opportunities to eat on our own led us not only to a paladar for a moonlit meal in a beautiful home full of art but also to Los Nardos, the hugely popular national restaurant down the street from the hotel where we got to chat with Cubans also waiting for a table.  As in the paladares, we enjoyed wonderful music in the national restaurant.  (Contrary to what we had been led to believe, Cuban food is not all rice and beans).

We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the organizers and leaders of this trip; everyone gave their time, their creativity, their energy, their patience, their wide-ranging knowledge of Cuba, and their good humor to make this such a special week.

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