A day in Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, does not disappoint, and should be a must-see on any traveler’s itinerary. With a creative art community, restored buildings and lovely plazas, this small city is charming and full of surprises. We learned, for example, that artist Lázaro Niebla will have an exhibit of his artwork in Minneapolis this spring. (Why Minneapolis? I’m not sure, but I am going to recommend to my friends in MN that they go see his work.) Lázaro carves panels from old doors and brings forth the faces of Cuban farmers and people living in rural areas. He told us that he interviews and photographs them, and then carves their likenesses in the cedar panels. With amazing detail, he shows the world the faces of Cuba, and in trying to keep his work as a unique expression of his country, he does not take commissions nor sells these pieces. Visit his studio if you find yourself in Trinidad!
Trinidad is also a “shopportunity” as our guide liked to call it. Look for my new Cafe a las Siete logo (for my summer Latino culture series) by artist Yami Martínez whose coffeepot painting I purchased. She stays with the coffeepot theme in paintings and sculpture, and the whimsical pieces proved very popular with our group of librarians. While many librarians stick with tea, coffee is certainly a theme in Cuba. How I love a good café con leche!
Back in Havana, we also visited the Casa de las Américas, an organization that awards the Casa de las Américas Literary Prize, equivalent to the U.S. Pulitzer Prize and the British Man Booker Prize. Cuban revolutionary Haydée Santamaría (1923–1980) founded the center and was its director for two decades. As a librarian interested in Latin American literature, I was thrilled to visit the organization that has honored writers such as Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano (1940-2015) and Salvadoran poet and journalist Roque Dalton (1935-1975), not to mention bringing global attention to Chilean poet Pablo Neruda and Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez. Their library hosts visiting scholars and has an extensive collection, as well as an online catalog.
In my next blog post: Not Adiós to Cuba….only Hasta Luego!