Robaina's plantation

Sunday 30 October 2011

Beth Shalom Synagogue, La Habana

                The Jewish community in Cuba is making a comeback after 37 years of Cuban Revolution. In the 1950's there were 15,000 Jews from all walks of life from families fleeing Europe in the early 1900's. After the Cuban Revolution almost the entire Jewish community left for Maimi & Israel, 90% of them. Today there are about 1,500 Jews in Cuba & most are senior citizen with about 75% concentrated in Havana and it's municipalities.
                 The Beth Shalom Synagogue, Gran Sinagoga Bet Shalom, was built in 1957 in an area in the Vedado district of Havana that was once a center of Jewish activity. With the coming of the revolution and the changing of the laws towards religion, the synagogue was neglected and by 1991, like many old buildings in Cuba today, was falling apart. Since 1992 however, the Synagogue has enjoyed a revitalization. Help came from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Comittee, a humanitarian organization. There were also wealthy Jewish donors from Miami. The group restored the building and it actually looks brand new. Today it contains the main community center and library with a nursery and educational activities to help bring back the youth into Jewish community. Services are held every week.

Saturday 29 October 2011

Cuban Cars (part 2)

               Hello Again, I just got back from a short trip to Havana. I still have to organize my fotos and video but wanted to leave you with something before I lose myself.
                Many of you love the cars and send me lots comments, therefore I decided to post a few of the better pictures I took of them on this trip. I hope you enjoy them.

Thursday 20 October 2011

Finca Robaina

                 At least a couple of times a year I make the trip out to Pinar del Rio from Havana. I almost always make a stop to the late Alejandro Robaina's farm that's now run by his grandson Hiroshi.
                 When Alejandro was alive I would often wander around the property and explore. I felt at times that Alejandro was being crowded, so I did my part by leaving the pack. It offered me great opportunities to see life on the plantation outside of the few hundred square feet that most people occupy when they visit the farm. I would take pictures, of course. Here are some images taken from the area on and around the Robaina property. Please enjoy.

Off a main road in San Luis, Pinar de Rio, is the entrance to the Robaina's property. Up until Alejandro's death, there was no sign. You either knew where it was or you had to ask. Hiroshi has since put a sign up by the road. Once on the property you drive on a long, winding, dusty dirt road for several minutes before coming upon this gate. This is the entrance to The Robaina's homes.

                                                         Tobacco crop in Novenber.

The road that winds around the property.


Workers home.

Curing Barn.

Fixing a truck with whatever parts they can find to fit.

The Parts Department

Friday 14 October 2011

Callejon de Hamel

                   Tucked away in Centro Habana is a barrio known as Cayo Hueso. A small street, Callejon de Hamel runs through it off of Calle Hospital, betwwen San Lazaro & Concordia. Here, a Afro-Cuban Art & Community have evolved.
                  It all started in 1990 when artist Salvador Gonzalez Escalona, from Camaguey, decided to express himself by making sculptures from junk or spare parts lying around the city. He also painted wildly coloured murals covering the street completely. The street looks like one big art gallery. When Salvador started all this he never imagined things would take off the way they did. The whole community came together to create this Haven in the middle of the decaying city. Strong feelings of the African Religions are felt in the air; Santaria, Palo Monte & Abakua.
                  On Sundays the street bands of the barrio come to play in the early afternoon. That's the time to come. There is a large percentage of black (the religions being African) people but there's still a varied mix because of the Asian and Spanish influence in the country. If you want a seat come early but I would rather be walking around. I would feel trapped sitting down & I wouldn't be able to get pics from different angles. The pictures in this post are actually from 2 different visits. The houses on this part of the street have become homes to artists who have converted their livingrooms into galleries displaying their Art. You won't be the only tourists but it seems to be mostly locals. It's perfectly safe and a must see if you're in Havana on a Sunday. The show ends around 3pm.

For video clips of last visit cut and paste the link below:

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Exposicion Colectiva Marinas 'Galeria Palacio de Lombillo'

                On my last trip to Havana in May, I came accross an exhibition of Seascapes by a collection of young painters. It is an old artform that's hardly used anymore. These young artists are rejuvenating it.
                 The Palacio de Lombillo, also known as Palacio del Conde Lombillo, is located in the beautiful Plaza de La Catedral. It's a colonial building which was constructed in 1746. The paintings were being shown on the ground floor. Admission: free

Artist Unknown

Jesus Hermida
title Oleo lienzo

Rene Lopez
title Silvero Playita

Rensol Gonzalez
title La Playa

Nelson Gonzalez Pujol
title Baracoa

Sergio Hernandez Moliner
title Embarcadero de Cojimar

Roberto Alfonso
title Arraigados por Naturaleza

Artist Unknown