On February 12, 2018, I arrived in Havana with 11 other artists who had signed up for a week in Cuba on an Arts and Cultural Tour with Jane LaFazio, an artist whose work I have long admired. I've wanted to go to Cuba for some time so this trip seemed the perfect way to study with Jane and see the country!
We met at a hotel in Miami and the following day boarded a flight for the short flight to Havana. So much excitement! I don't normally travel with groups or share a room with a stranger but I have to honestly tell you that I couldn't have asked for better! We all got along so well that by the end of out time together we had become fast friends.
Our days were filled to the brim with activities and there was time each day for sketching. We visited artists' studios and workshops, enjoyed delicious lunches and dinners in interesting locations and drank lots of mojitos! I filled the concertina sketchbook provided by Jane and another I brought from home, partly in Cuba, finishing up at home.
A big comfortable bus drove us to each day's destination, then parked and allowed us to explore, picking us up later for the ride back to our hotel, located a short distance from the center. The Hotel Nacional de Cuba was THE place for gangsters and Hollywood stars alike to stay during its heyday in the 30s and 40s. It sill feels glamorous and we often met for cocktails on the verandas after our excursions as palm trees swayed and the sea glistened in the fading light!
The first day we rode to the center where we wandered the streets, marveling at the beautifully restored buildings in some areas and the crumbling architecture in others. We were thrilled with all the color, texture and urban life that abounds - a feast for our artist eyes and a joy to capture in our sketchbooks and photographs.
|Arrival at Jose Marti Aeroporto Internacional - we're not in Kansas anymore Toto!|
|Beautifully restored buildings and Classic cars|
|Former government building, now a school - resembles our Capitol|
|Couldn't resist taking photos of the candy colored classic cars|
We were lucky to have the most beautiful weather all week long
|Typical of the many streets in disrepair, some quite crumbly but with so much color and texture|
as the following photos will show, hard to imagine, but people are living in many of these.
|Street vendors and friends add even more color and life to the city|
|Photos of all the famous people who had stayed at our hotel graced the walls of the hotel bar|
|We visited the photo studio of Ramses H. Batista who showed us images of Hurricane Irma|
|That's our Cuban Tour guide waving at me on O'Reilly Street!|