Recap :: Long Studio to Havana, Day 7


 
Photo by: John Pilling 

By John Pilling, Havana Long Studio Instructor


Wednesday, February 15, 2012
The entire morning was devoted to Regla.  It began with a tour of the City Museum conducted by its director.  The museum building was originally a private home, and then a school of music.  Several of its rooms are devoted to the decorative arts from the period of the building.  There are also sections on plastic artists from Regla and the history of Regla’s baseball team.  Important to the subject of this semester’s studio, syncretism, are the rooms devoted to the Afro-Cuban spirituality and religious belief.  The director was kind enough o explain in detail the differences between Santería, Palo Monte, and Abakuá.  Santería and Palo Monte each take their origins from different parts of Africa from where people were captured, enslaved, and transported to the Americas.  Abakuá is a male-only secret society with origins from a different part of the African diaspora. 

 
Photo by: John Pilling 

The Museum director guided us to the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Regla, which is important to Cuban people of faith. Each of the saints within are paired with Yoruba Orishas. Nuestra Senora de Regla being Yemaya, Santa Barbaa being Chango, and San Lazaro being Babalu Aye. 

While we were walking to the church, we told the museum director that we were designing proposals for the terminals for the Lanchetas (passenger ferries) of the harbor. He was delighted to tell us that he is on the committee in charge of restoring the terminal in Regla. He invited us to share the results of the studio with him so he can display it in the Municipal Museum.

 
Photo by: John Pilling 

Before catching the Lancheta back to La Habana Vieja, members of the group took time to sketch and take photos. Luis, Sam, and some others got readings from some of the spirit guides who were outside the church. Michael was bestowed with a set of white beads representing Obatalá.

After lunch in La Habana Vieja, Yule and the driver took us to Finca Vigia, Hemingway’s villa south of Havana.  Yule explained that the villa was designed and built by a Catalan architect, Miguel Pascual Y Baguer. Hemingway’s third wife found it and persuaded the author to move out of La Habana Vieja. First, he rented it, and then he bought it.  He lived there from 1930 to 1960, the time of his death by suicide.

He shared the house with his wife, four dogs and 56 cats.  He gave the house and its contents to the Cuban people. Cuba has been restoring the house, and they have received technical advice from the Finca Vigia Foundation in Concord, MA. In exchange for the advice, Cuba is sharing copies of Hemingway’s documents with the JFK Presidential Library in Boston. Besides the house, the Cubans have conserved his sport fisherman, Pilar, which sits on what had been the tennis court. Hemingway’s four dogs: Black, Negrita, Linda, and Neron; are buried in the space between the tennis court and the pool.  In keeping with the dog-friendly tradition, there are quite a few ‘Satos’ (dogs of the street) who live at Finca Vigia now.

 
Photo by: John Pilling 

The group returned to Havana. Luis and John took time in the evening to make plans for the studio to meet Cuban friends in the days to come.