Havana came alive for us today!

Early morning mass at the Iglesia del Carmen began the day for some of us. We had our first early morning walk throuIglesia del Carmen Catholic Churchgh the streets of Havana on a Sunday morning. The church was about 10 minutes away from our hotel. The Iglesia del Carmen in need of repair, nevertheless, very beautiful. A small choir sang the mass a cappella and a young priest presided.

DSC02953Then we returned, we all met and saw Havana from our bus. Antonio our expert driver, began our journey through the city. Bus #288 would become our familiar “taxi”.

Havana came alive for us with art and music, and the vision of antique cars. The varied architecture and most importantly, interacting with the extraordinary people!

The people of Cuba exude warmth and smiles and humor. A sense of patriotism than they have. We were driven to an area called Muraleando, a suburb of Havana. It was previously a dumpsite that local artists cleaned and renovated. A gift to Muraleando of a signed 5’ portrait of “Snoopy” by Charles Schultz greeted us as we entered a gathering area. We had good opportunity to discuss their lives and livelihoods, as well as cultural attitudes. As our guide in the Murleando suburb said, “music runs through our veins”. Indeed, the strains are heard citywide. Sunday is an excellent day to spend in old Havana where so many people are out to enjoy the day. A wonderful Lunch was enjoyed at El Aljibe (The Cistern).

DSC02990Thereafter, we met our individual Cuban friends in town, led by Amarilys Gorostiza or “Amy”. We then separated into smaller groups to walk through Old Havana. Each group headed off in different directions utilizing famous attractions to inspire additional conversation such as Museo de la Revolucion, the Church Plaza, Hemingway’s apartment and a small park called Parque Infantil .

Our dinner that evening was at a restaurant that had been a printing press called La Imprenta. Some wonderful football comraderie developed at the Bar that evening, as the Denver Broncos played. It was a play off game and our group gathered at the bar to watch and cheer the two teams. Six for Denver and three for South California. Denver won!

Pam and Celia have guided us well through the first two days!