Robaina's plantation

Sunday 19 February 2012

Parque de la Fraternidad, Habana Vieja

                  Right next to the Capitolio Building in Old Havana is a lovely park called the "Parque de la Fraternidad". It was originally set up in 1892 to be a parade ground for the Capitol Building next to it and to commemorate the "Fourth Centennial" of the Spanish landing in the Americas.
                  In 1927 the park was changed and renamed what we know it as today to mark the Sixth Pan-American Conference that was being held in Havana the following year. The name was to signify American brotherhood and therefore busts of Latin and North American leaders are scattered all around the park. A Ceiba Tree, considered holy by African slaves, was planted in 1928 using a mixture of soils from all the countries of the Americas as a show of friendship. It sits in the middle of the park encased within an iron gate showing a plaque with the participating countries. The "Fuente de La India", the fountain of the Indian Queen was added in 1931 when it was sculpted by Giuseppe Gaggini and dedicated to the city of Havana. The sculpture is made of marble from Carrara Italy.
                   The park sits in a very busy part of the city. On one side you have a major bus stop that always seems to be packed with waiting passengers. Another side is lined with an unusual amount of those postcard perfect classic cars. They're all taxis looking for fares and make for some great pictures. On another side you have the Capitolio and on the last side the main street that takes you down to Prado. I've been told by locals that the park turns into a major Gay scene at night. That's pretty much it in a nutshell. It's a pleasant few minute stop if you happen to be in the area. Enjoy the pictures.

                                 The Ceiba Tree

                       Plaque showing the participating Countries

The Ceiba Tree

Simon Bolivar - Led 4 South American countries to Independence

Ramon Emeterio Betances - father of the Puerto Rican Independence Movement

Joaquin Jose Da Silva Xavier 
Led the First Organized Movement against the Portuguese in Brazil

Fuente de La India

Abraham Lincoln - Preserved the Union while ending slavery in the US

Juarez - Was a Strong leader for Mexico when they needed one most

To your left, going North, you go towards the blvd. "Prado" which takes you to the ocean

Jose Bonifacio de Andrada
One of the most Important Mentors of the Brazilian Independence

 The One side of the Park with the street lined with Classic Old Cars working as Taxis

Saturday 18 February 2012

Iglesia del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, Habana

           There isn't really to much said about this church as far as I can see. I've driven by it so many times but because it's on a busy street and I'm always on my way to somewhere, I've never stopped to take a look. After 7 years of driving by it, on this trip I finally walked by it and decided to step in.
            It's located on Avenida Salvador Allende (Reina), a street that takes you right into Old Havana by the Parque de La Fraternidad that's next to the Capitolio building. You can't miss this church, you see it from a distance with one of the highest bell towers in Havana at 77 meters (253 ft). Built in the early 20th century, between 1914-1923. It was consecrated in 1923. It was built and still run by Jesuits. When you enter this church you enter another world, you don't feel you just left a busy street in Havana. Inside it's dark and peaceful. Know for it's stained glass windows detailing the life of Christ. It truly is something beautiful to behold. This church is also known by 2 other names "Parroquia del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus y del San Ignacio de Loyola" or simply as "Iglesia de Reina".

Thursday 16 February 2012

The Mercado, Habana Vieja

            The Mercado (market) conjures up memories of my youth spent in Italy. I love open-air markets. Sure, we have them here in Canada in the summertime but they're not the same. Here they're clean and tidy with lots of room. In Cuba they're dirty and crowded but that's what I call colourful. For me, going to the market is an experience. Nothing bad has ever happened to me but I'm always aware of my surroundings. In Cuba, the market is not an outing on a Sunday afternoon with family in-tow like here in my country. All Cubans depend on one market or another, 7 days a week, as the place to buy they're produce. There are no Supermarkets in Cuba that sell fresh produce, only frozen & imported that usually isn't available on the Island. Cubans don't buy that stuff, we foreigners do. Like everywhere around the world, Cubans complain that prices keep rising. I can't tell going to the market because for me as a foreigner the prices seem ridiculously cheap. I mean no disrespect to the Cubans and their situation. I have a lot of Cuban friends from all walks of life and I understand what they're going through. With 10cuc I can't carry the fruit and vegetables I can buy. Another thing I've come to realize is that you only find what's in season. It used to be more evident in the past but I've noticed a change. With the laws changing over the past few years and the government allowing unused tracts of land to be leased for free to whoever is willing to work it, I've noticed more product available at different times. I haven't heard talk of a shortage for a while either. It might not seem like much but it's progress. This market in the pictures is the biggest in Havana and my favourite. If you don't find what you're looking for here it's unlikely you'll find it anywhere else in the city. That's a big reason for me to come here, one stop. It's located in Old Havana, so if you rent here as I used to, you can walk there as I used to. It's not in a bad part of Old Havana, just a neglected part but that's changing too. You have nothing to be afraid of, I recommend you pay it a visit if you're in the area. One more thing, they use their currency. If you pay with CUC, expect Cuban pesos for change. They will give you 24-25 pesos per CUC.

video clips below, copy and paste

Address: corners of  Corrales y Avenida de Belgica (Egido)
Hours:  Mon-Sat  8am-6pm     Sun  8am-2pm