F12 Long Studio to Havana :: Day 1

Led by BAC instructors John Pilling and Luis Montalvo, eleven fall 2012 Long Studio students visited Havana, Cuba from September 21 - October 1, 2012. Here is the first entry in a series of posts where John Pilling recounts their experiences.

In keeping with the fall 2012 Longstudio’s updated curriculum, our research trip to Havana was comprised of studying a selected set of buildings and places for extended periods of time.

Our hosts made this plan possible by providing unprecedented access to both the masterpieces and their creators.  We are grateful to Kara, Tim, Merri, Debbie, Tony, Norbeto, Horacio, the Regla Museum staff, Prof. Navarro, Orlando, Aylen, Maestro Gottardi, Prof. Rey, Prof. Rodriguez, Arq. Coyula, Franklin and Alain for making our trip such a success.

Friday, 09/21/12
A few hours after our studio meeting Thursday night we checked in for our 5:30 AM flight to Miami. Once at MIA, Debbie, of Common Ground, met at the charter desk to help with the formalities. As is always the case, the area around the charter desk was crowded with carts loaded with luggage; each piece wrapped in either blue or green plastic and filled with countless different goods destined for homes in Cuba.

A representative of San Cristóbal, our agent in Havana, met us in the immigration hall at José Martí Terminal 2 in Havana to smooth our arrival. Soon, he introduced us to our guide for the week, Norbeto, whom Luis and John had during the Spring 2012 Longstudio research trip.

Our drive from the airport to the Hotel La Florida took us by the Plaza de la Revolución, the University of Havana, La Rampa, and El Malecón. Hotel La Florida is a terrific place.

They welcomed us with a round of Cuba Libres at around 4 pm, twelve hours after we’d gotten started in Boston. Tony, Common Ground’s representative in Havana; Norberto; and John confirmed the plans for the week while the Longstudieros got settled in. Each of our nights were free during the trip, and we spent the first one exploring La Habana Vieja.

After walking through the Plaza de la Catedral and Plaza Vieja, we checked out a couple of places on Calle Mercaderes for dinner before settling in at La Meson de La Flota for a great meal and entertainment by Compañía Flamenca ECOS.