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Cuba Libre - Once in a Meadow



Did you ever wake up humming a tune? ....and that tune stays with you all day?...and then you hear it again and again throughout the day? Well, I'm waking up with Guantanamera. A very popular song here and throughout the world. When I was a child, one of the chores my mother (who was born in Switzerland and which English was not her first language) assigned my sister and I, was the job of helping her with the dinner dishes. She would wash, we would dry. We would sing to pass the time. Guantanamera was a favorite. My mother made up words for songs sometimes and her version of the Guantanamera chorus was "Once in a Meadow". I've been singing this version of the chorus and sharing it with my travelling companions. They say whenever they hear this song now, they will remember it as " Once in a Meadow"....a fine tribute to my mom! (Take a moment and think about how you would interpret a Swiss song). My better half started to sing "La Guantanamera." I told him it is not "La" Guantanamera.. He said " no la..no Rick". By the way, his interpretation of the chorus is "One ton of Marrow"....????

I am so excited to be in Havana....I am beside myself. Again, another "mom moment"...instead of using the phrase "beside myself", she would say "I am standing right next to my shoes!" Anyway..I am living in this beautiful, historic hotel.....The Hotel National, for the next few days. And what a beauty she is! Many famous people came thru these doors and finally we join the ranks! This magnificent hotel is located on the Malecon. It is an important landmark in Havana's history. Among other things, back in the day, a mob summit run by Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano was held here. It was also in the movie, The Godfather Part II. As I walk thru the grand lobby, the beautiful grounds, and the bar filled with memorabilia...I fall in love with the architecture and the elegant ambiance of a different era. Vintage American cars loop around the palm-lined driveway. The terrace and grounds are gorgeous with roaming peacocks and a small underground museum with photos of the Cuban Missile Crisis. A few of us sit and enjoy Mojitos, some of our group try the Cuban cigars and all of us admire the view and the music. Do you understand why...."I am standing right next to my shoes!"?


The streets are filled with vintage American cars, (foreign parts-Cuban Solution) in every color. The cameras come out ...photo opportunities not to be missed. We are on our way to Old Havava, another UNESCO World Heritage Site to meet a Cuban architect for a presentation on Havana's rich architecture. We stroll through the cobblestone streets admiring the old-world charm of the 16th and 17th century buildings ... more camera action. We enjoy lunch including some local Cuban music and then we are off to explore a unique project started at a garbage dump. This is a community project featuring murals and sculptures celebrating Cuban life; It is an amazing work of art. Bright colors, sculptures and artwork brought life back into this depressed area. An old water tank was used to create an art gallery. I bought my first two pieces of Cuban artwork here; Amazing talent and passion.


Now for a Spanish lesson at the Jose Marti Language School. All beginners in one class and everyone else who speaks even a bit of Spanish, goes into the advanced class. The instructors... Habla espanol...ONLY!. Our classes are 45 minutes long and quite fun. Normally, the school teaches diplomats, educators and anyone that wishes to learn Spanish quickly. The classes are 4 hrs per day for several weeks and when classes are completed, the student is able to converse comfortably in Spanish....something I am putting on my bucket list when I retire.


Back at the hotel, a few of us decide to hire a car....a vintage car...to take us to La Floridita, Hemingway's old haunt. The car arrives and as soon as we settle into our seats and we are on our way, our " chauffeur " tells us that this was once Fidel Castro's limosine. How cool is this! We instantly realize how little we are understanding and how confused we really are about communism and Cuba.


La Florita is a cozy place with great atmosphere. We find a table and order the famous daiquiris. I spot Ernest in the corner...looking good and as big as life. The music Is playing and we take our turns getting those photos with him. The music is great...a CD purchase, of course.


Hunger gets the best of us so we head over to the famous Sloppy Joe's. This was one of the most famous bars in the world, back in the day. In the 1940's and 1950's, during prohibition, this historic bar changed from food service to liquor service when American tourists would visit Havana for the nightlife, gambling and alcohol which they could not get at home. As we wait for our meals, we enjoy meandering thru the bar and looking at the old photos of famous artists, athletes and politicians. Later, another vintage-car ride brings us back to our hotel.


As I am walking the long hallway to our room, I notice I am humming an old, familiar tune..."Once in a Meadow"....

Posted by Linda Fluckiger 03:15 Archived in Cuba Tagged school la language hemingway floridita cubajose marti

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I love the pictures and you've captured the best of our many amazing moments. "Once in a meadow..."

by teethetrav

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