Monthly Archives: November 2022
if laundry can be magic
This room felt like magic. Like laundry-magic, if that’s a thing.
Bright white tablecloths, freshly laundered, were hung to dry in this room. The combination of laundry (and its wind-led dance), the stone floor (look how those tiles are laid on a diagonal with the room), a chandelier, those yellow walls, the columns: you see what I mean about magic.
I hope I never forget what it felt like to stand in this room.
This cemetery in Havana is one of the world’s largest, with over 450 mausoleums and 800,000 graves. My Lonely Planet Pocket Havana guidebook says there are an average of 50 funerals held here every day.
We had only about 45 minutes here, but I could have easily spent almost my entire week in Cuba exploring the place: you know how I am about cemeteries. I tried to make good use of my time, moving and shooting as quickly as possible. It was hard: I wanted to stop and savor what I was seeing. But that was the way it worked out: at least I got to see it.
This particular mausoleum had a tattered tarp hanging over part of the door, but I am not sure what its purpose was.
When we were leaving, cemetery security guards inspected the trunks of our cars: apparently stealing pieces of graves or mausoleums is a concern.
(Also, the place is so vast and has so many visitors that city bus routes go right through the place.)
(And, the photographer who made that iconic photo of Che Guevara – you know the one I mean – is buried here.)
Necrópolis Cristóbal Colón
This was the highlight of the entire trip – the chance to watch performances of dancers from Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba, a highly regarded dance academy in Cuba.
I was going to write about the dances (a fusion of flamenco, ballet, Cuban rhythms, and other styles), the dancers (who attend academic and dance classes at the academy), or the founder (Lizt Alfonso, a highly regarded dancer and visionary). But nothing I can say will convey the passion, the precision, the dedication of the dancers. Or the passion and precision of the dances.
Ms. Alfonso spoke with our group after the performance and indicated the company would be touring internationally in 2024. You ought to try to catch a performance. (I mean – look at this video, and you’ll see what I mean.) (If you look at the video you’ll also see that my photo is a very, very poor capture of what I experienced.)
Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba
The sweat-covered boxer from this post is the man on the left, giving it his all in full Cuban sun.
The men would pair up, sparring until the coach said, in a calm deep voice, “Tiempo.” They’d rest a few minutes, wipe their faces, drink some water*. And when the coach again announced, “Tiempo.” they’d start back up until the next announcement.
Gimnasia de Boxeo Rafael Trejo
*And if we were there, put up with a swarm of photographers intent on getting a Very Important Portrait of Very Sweaty Boxer.