Cuba 2020 – An Art, Architecture, and Culture Journey

Reemberto Rodriguez (January 2020)

What an amazing journey to Cuba. It was wonderful to visit with companions from the States that are authentically interested in being with the Cuban people, understanding their situation, and offer mutual support. What a journey!

We laughed, we cried. We had fun, and we were distraught. We danced, and we prayed… And of course we played dominoes, smoked cigars, and drank rum.

Most important: We were with the Cuban people, side by side, engaging and conversing about life and the universal desire to relate with each other regardless of institutional or governmental conditions and impositions.

… and we connected. We connected with artists, entrepreneurs, and faith leaders. Some in the group also connected with old friends, and relatives they had never before met.

(Scroll down for full reflection.)

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PICTURES

LA HABANA

https://photos.app.goo.gl/AwFGhQLhrsBWV4Lx9

Getting there, arrival dinner, walking around, Cathedral Plaza, Centro Varela, Museo de Arte, Capitolio, Malecón, Fabrica de Arte Cubano, Cementerio Colón, more walking around, Hotel Nacional, Ballet, Havana at night

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CIENFUEGOS

https://photos.app.goo.gl/HHTpKx6EWhmoKThf7

Stop at Aguada de Pasajeros for lunch, Cathedral, Teatro Terry, Viejo colegio Jesuita, Castillo de Jagua, stadium, walking around, Casa Valle, Dominoes, New Year’s

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TRINIDAD

https://photos.app.goo.gl/RTtYf56fiMgErfXm9

Walking around, art galleries and collective conversation, Casa de Trova, Valle de Ingenios, San Isidro, more Trinidad

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VARADERO

https://photos.app.goo.gl/7iXZnuiNg8ghEQUA9

Drive by Campiña and Perseverancia, then at Varadero: Fidelandia (Marina), Xanadu, walking Varadero, beach, sight and scenes

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MATANZAS

https://photos.app.goo.gl/g9EJJHFbDxmV8iGq5

Walking Matanzas, Riverwalk, galleries, overlook (on way back to Havana)

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BACK IN LA HABANA

https://photos.app.goo.gl/qLRCuAwRwLE8Bj6t6

Quick stop at Craft Market, dinner at San Cristobal, Good byes, and getting home

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VIDEO

It is complicated

55 minute of vignettes of mini moments plus music performed in restaurants, bars, and more. (In process of developing directory indicating at which minute on the video different moments appear. For now, best simply browse.)

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REFLECTION

What an amazing journey to Cuba. It was wonderful to visit with companions from the States that are authentically interested in being with the Cuban people, understanding their situation, and offer mutual support. What a journey!

We laughed, we cried. We had fun, and we were distraught. We danced, and we prayed… And of course we played dominoes, smoked cigars, and drank rum.

Most important: We were with the Cuban people, side by side, engaging and conversing about life and the universal desire to relate with each other regardless of institutional or governmental conditions and impositions.

… and we connected. We connected with artists, entrepreneurs, and faith leaders. Some in the group also connected with old friends, and relatives they had never before met.

The members of our group were simply the best. What an eclectic group it was! We had folks that had taken similar journeys to Cuba before; we had folks who were born in Cuba and had never returned; we had folks who were born to Cuban parents and never being; and we had community activists friends – one Catholic the other Jewish – that were simply interested in this uniquely Cuban experience. Being led by someone that knows the Cuban people both in the Island and in the US was critical. We also had a co-leader from Cuba with experience in travel throughout the Island… One could not ask for a more congenial, friendly, fun group with which to journey to Cuba.

We maximized opportunities to interact directly with the Cuban people, including spending money as directly as we could with them. And yes, we also took them simple essentials of life that are difficult to find in Cuba (i.e. toothpaste, shampoo, toothpicks, aspirin, dress pants, shoes, etc.) This was not a ‘touristry’ trip. This was a journey of encounter.

And so the journey began. Some highlights among many – in roughly chronological order:

Havana

  • Havana’s ‘maqueta’ (architectural model of the City) was an instructive way to start the journey. Walking around – and having dinner – with a local historian helped to understand the City’s rich history. 
  • Havana just celebrated its 500th birthday. And it shows. New street lights, refreshed buildings, and celebratory signs. But, its decay cannot be masked. Much of it is still crumbling.
  • The architecture of necessity is everywhere – old homes turned into multi-family dwellings; storefronts tucked into tiny spaces. But also of note is the five star hotels being built. Income disparity on steroids.
  • The Fabrica de Arte Cubano (FAC) is unbelievable. An olive oil plant transformed into an indescribable art space. Performing arts. Visual arts. Fashion shows. All conceptualized and developed by an entrepreneur – within a tight government framework.
  • Visiting the recently renovated Capitol was awe-inspiring. Seeing the grandeur that once was coming back to life in this exquisite space was highly instructive to understanding Cuba’s past and present.
  • The Colón Cemetery is always a treat, more so when you visit with someone that finds their ancestors’ resting place.
  • Attending the National Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker was an art experience like no other. High art is universal.
  • Visiting the Felix Varela Center was enlightening indeed. Here you gain a better understanding of what is possible in today’s Cuba regarding training entrepreneurs to seize the moments of opportunities, albeit limited as they may be.
  • When in Havana, walk. And walk and walk. Experiencing the Plazas, walking from one to the next, stopping to have a drink and listen to music, observing the people and the architecture – that is the best way to be Havana. And so we were.
  • And of course, walking the Malecón. Mystical.
  • But most insightful was talking to the families where we stayed. Their tenacity and capacity to ‘resolver’ (make it work) given the extreme scarcity is truly amazing. True entrepreneurs.

Cienfuegos

  • Then on to Cienfuegos. But before we got there we had lunch with the good folks at Aguada de Pasajeros, where some in the group connected with family and friends – and the good nuns that do so much work there and nearby, including Real Campiña, my hometown. The necessities of Cubans outside of Havana is so evident. Transportation is so limited. Access to basic staples so difficult. Yet being out in the more rural areas provides some opportunity for growing your own – just don’t mess with the cows; killing one will get you a prison term of 30 years.
  • Cienfuegos has architectural gems everywhere you look. Buildings, plazas, and vistas galore. And a bay.
  • The City recently celebrated its 200th birthday – a relatively young City.
  • It’s Teatro Terry was recently renovated. Its splendor shines.
  • Benny Moré’s statue in the Paseo is always a treat to photograph.
  • Its Malecón may not be as grandeur as Havana’s but walking it is still fun, with its flashing city sign welcoming you to Punta Gorda. A beautiful place to watch the sunset.
  • The Morro in Cienfuegos is Cuba’s third most prominent. You have to take a small boat ferry to it. And we did, having lunch at a home/restaurant overlooking the entrance to the Bay – where we saw a Panamanian oil tanker entering. Petro is tough to get in Cuba, especially for regular folks. Distribution is tightly controlled – but the black market still there, controlled as it is.
  • Dinner in the splendid Casa de Valle was exquisite. This house built by Spaniards in the early 1800’s was recently beautifully restored.
  • The Cathedral is majestic. Beautiful. Built by Chinese. (Who knew?)
  • And the old Catholic school recently ‘returned’ to the Jesuits is a gem – and a renovations challenge as it was totally misused and abused over the last six decades, being used literally as a dump by the government.
  • We spent New Year in Cienfuegos, celebrating in an independently owned restaurant – and then continuing the party at one of the paladares where we were staying, playing dominoes, drinking rum, and smoking cigars, of course.

Trinidad

  • What can you say about Trinidad? So much history! 
  • Older than Havana. And a place where the oldest profession is rampant. Sex tourism is evidently alive and well in Cuba. It may be illegal. But it brings in hard currency.
  • Regardless, this World Heritage Site is always an amazing place to visit. 
  • Art galleries galore. Music everywhere. Cobblestones streets. Unmatched vistas. A photographer’s dream. 
  • Like other major tourist destinations throughout the world, Trinidad is struggling with the balancing act of welcoming tourists while maintaining its authenticity. Not an easy challenge.
  • There were broken water pipes in key streets, supposedly scheduled to be replaced in the future – necessitating the uplifting of the cobblestones… (Good luck!)
  • Did I say galleries galore? We visited one that is women owned and all pieces are women-centric. At another gallery the artists does wood carvings of campesinos. Masterful!
  • We also visited with a collective of weavers who shared their techniques of the trade.
  • And of course we ate at independently owned restaurants, one in particular that had exquisite food and service. We met the owner and he was quite a character indeed.
  • And we played dominoes and drank rum.
  • (Logistical note: We planned to visit Camaguey, but given the new U.S. imposed regulations of having to fly in and out of Havana we returned to Havana.)
  • Working our way back to Havana we stopped to see sugar mill plantations to better understand that indispensable aspect of Cuban history, including its complexity regarding slavery through the 19th century, confiscation of all sugar mills in the last ½ of the 20th century, the failed attempts to produce 10 million tons in the 70’s, and the economics of sugar today.
  • We also did a ‘drive by’ Real Campiña and Perseverancia, places dear to me personally.

Matanzas

  • We spent an afternoon in Matanzas, where again some of the group’s participants were able to connect with old relatives.
  • Matanzas – the “Athens of Cuba” – was surprisingly alive with a new river-walk lined with artist studios and a Plaza that rivals any other in Cuba.
  • As in all major cities in Cuba, Matanzas illustrates the massive failure of the public sector’s disregard for classic architecture since 1960. The recent attempts to restore some of these places – while commendable – yield only token results and leaves one yearning for what might have been.
  • Motorcycles everywhere. They even have a special place to park them. (Talking to the motorcycle owners was a special treat for one of our group’s members who is a motorcycle enthusiast.)

Varadero

  • We spent one night In Varadero – the world famous beach – where we stayed at private homes, learning through conversations with our hosts about the challenges of running their businesses (i.e.: lack of reliable staples needed to run a hostel – soap, eggs, bread, towels. One day they are available, the next not so.)
  • We passed by publicly owned and operated The Beatles Night Club, an outdoor music venue for rock and roll. Particularly poignant given that listening to The Beatles was a crime during the 60’s and 70’s in Cuba.
  • On our way back to Havana for our last night in Cuba we made a quick pit-stop at one of Cuba’s most beautiful overlooks, with the valley below and a 1950’s bridge – and the world’s best Piña Colada, with as much rum as you’d like.

Back in Havana

  • Our ‘closure dinner’ in Havana was at the same independently owned restaurant where Obama had his dinner. There we were treated to music by one of our musician friends.
  • Our last gathering as a group was in one of the homes some of us were staying where we shared about our experience.
  • We laughed. We cried. We hugged. We committed to keep journeying to Cuba to accompany the Cuban people in their journeys.

Where are we headed?

Under the current diplomatic approach by the U.S. towards Cuba – “the diplomacy of fear” – it is most likely things will get more difficult over the next few months. (Note: It just did. Charter flights have been given the same restrictions as commercial flights. They can only go in and out of Havana.) If the current Administration in the U.S. continues in power, it will become catastrophic for the Cuban people. Squeezing Cuba is hurting the people of Cuba, not the government. If you don’t believe me, believe the Cuban people, including most dissidents. Their unanimous opinion is that the US imposed restrictions are devastating to the regular folks in Cuba, particularly the entrepreneurs. The Cuban government will not buckle to the US government bullying. They just won’t. Even if they have to repeat the ‘special period’ of the early 90’s.

If there is a change in U.S. administration and the clock is reset to 2015 to pick up where Obama left it, then it will be possible to continue on a path of mutual respect that could lead to a betterment of the Cuban people.

Mutual respect does not mean agreeing on everything. Mutual respect does not mean accepting your governance model as ‘good’. Mutual respect does not mean forgetting the past or sweeping injustices under the rug.

Forgiving does not mean forgetting. Reconciliation does not mean capitulating.

Mutual respect means that while there are aspects of your behavior I want to see changed, I know you can’t turn on a dime – and I am willing to compromise. Mutual respect most importantly means that I will engage you as equal, honoring your dignity, and negotiating in good faith. I will not shame you. I will not bully you even if I am more powerful than you. The Cuban people deserve no less. The American people deserve no less.

Getting ready for that wishful moment when we sit down again to grow our diplomatic relationship under the banner of mutual respect, here’s one possible framework:

US TO-DO

1. Lift embargo
2. Reopen Havana Embassy to full operation
3. Extend financial credit for business and corporate transaction
4. Allow personal use of American credit cards in Cuba
5. Increase remittance allowances
6. Permit cruise ships to go to all Cuban ports
7. Permit flights to cities other than Havana
8. Increase legal immigration
9. Stop pursuing land and corporate claims
10. Return Guantanamo


CUBA TO-DO

1. Remove restrictions on NGOs and civic associations
2. Allow independent labor unions
3. Loosen restrictions on entrepreneurship
4. Allow second home and small business ownership by US Cubans
5. Permit assemblies without repression
6. Diversify media options and voices beyond public control
7. Open education system to faith communities
8. Expand political discourse beyond the One Party system
9. Eliminate two currency system
10. Join the World Bank and the IMF

In conclusion:

To travel to Cuba is to journey through an experience of your own making. You get out of it what you put into it.

  • It is not just about seeing. It is more about sensing.
  • It is not just about the food. It is more about who harvest and cooks.
  • It is not just about the music. It is more about the musicians.
  • It is not just about the rum. It is more about the conversation.
  • It is not just about relating. It is more about relationships.
  • It is not just about necessities. It is more about the ingenuity of survival.
  • It is not just about how to help. It is more about how to engage.
  • It is not just about its people. It is more about the Island’s soul, salsa, and spirit.
  • It is not just about the history. It is as much about the future.
  • It is not just about Cuba. It is as much about the USA.

Lest we get too riled up about ‘we are better than them’, I ask:

… Could the self-imposed censorship in the USA be as damaging and difficult to overcome for the soul as Cuba’s State sponsored censorship?

… Could rampant, uncontrollable consumerism in the USA be as damaging for the psyche as Cuba’s State sponsored scarcity?

… Could the ambition to keep up with the Joneses and ‘get ahead’ attitude in the USA be as damaging for the spirit as the complacency and fatalism required to survive in Cuba’s State sponsored totaliarism?

Ultimately neither system works for – nor is either system interested in – the wholeness of the person. In the USA power is in the hands of the vintage capitalist mafia, seeking to stay in power and benefitting the 10% – mostly corporations – where most of the county’s wealth is hoarded. In Cuba power is in the hands of the vintage communist mafia, seeking to stay in power and benefitting the 10% – mostly the military – where most of the county’s wealth is hoarded. In both systems the individual is consistently pressured to conform; in both the individual has limited options to break out of class. No doubt that in today’s USA the options are infinitely more available, penalties are less draconian, and opportunities more plentiful. Yet in both peoples – less so in the governments – you find individuals that are sincere, value driven, and authentic. In both peoples you find individuals that have clearly found – or continue their search for – inner peace and personal, individual fulfillment… It is with those people – there and here – with which we seek to connect, regardless of ‘systems’.

LINKS TO PREVIOUS JOURNEYS

FELIZ NAVIDAD 2019

FELIZ NAVIDAD 2019 from Reemberto & Geraldina

FELIZ NAVIDAD 2019 amigo(a) & familia.

If you have not visited, we invite you to our virtual front porch to meander through our adventures this last year. www.Reemberto.Info

It is truly impossible to recap the amazing blessings sprinkled – no, showered! – on us this year. Maribelle – our first granddaughter – is born. Berto – her brother and our first grandson – is in pre pre K at Sacred Heart School in DC. RemDana – our first born and his wife – keep running and more. Iggy – our second son – and Jessica are engaged. Geraldina is following her passion in Africa – and yoga back home. Reemberto is still all about Silver Spring – and Cuba.

This year we were fortunate to visit London, Bordeaux, Paris – and DiggerLand in NJ. And we began and will end the year in Cuba, our fifth New Years there connecting with the people, regardless of the governments.

We also focused lots of energy and attention in affirming the goodness around us through the support of the work of the amazing organizations, government agencies, and the countless individuals that work with immigrants, refugees, the homeless, children, the isolated elderly, the HIV/AIDS community, and the poor in our own neighborhood and abroad. Their work continue to provide a shining example of what can be when decency, empathy, and authentic love drives your actions… No time to get discouraged; no time to let the bad vibes, reckless leaders, or mean-spirits sour our enthusiasm for positive change and social justice.

May the core message of NAVIDAD* stay with you this Season and throughout 2020.

*If you need a reminder of the Navidad message, watch Linus (Charlie Brown’s friend) remind us.

If you need a little “perk me up” Christmas music/video, watch this amateurish video accompanying the album “A Cuban Christmas”.

And, if you have not visited, we invite you to our virtual front porch to meander through our adventures this last year. www.Reemberto.Info

FELIZ NAVIDAD & PROSPERO AÑO NUEVO

Staying connected,

Reemberto & Geraldina

EL Cobre & Santiago de Cuba (Nov. ’19)

La Virgen de La Caridad del Cobre
Santiago de Cuba

PICTURES*

Highlights

EL Cobre (Ejercicios, Convento, Santuario, y Pueblo)

Santiago de Cuba (La Ciudad, Casa de Trova, Cementerio y mas)

VIDEOS*

La Casa de la Trova

Museo del Carnaval

Other Sights & Sounds

Changing of the Guards at Jose Martí’s Grave

Extra! Videos from dance company at El Museo del Carnaval (“19 de Septiembre”) – Afro Cuban Dances

Una Dos Tres Cuatro

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*NOTE: See days 6, 7 , and 8 of 2007 trip for more pictures and videos of El Cobre & Santiago during that journey.

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REFLECCION

Nov. 7 – 13, 2019

He aquí unas anécdotas y observaciones – desconectadas y no necesariamente en orden cronológica – de la experiencia de asistir a unos Ejercicios Espirituales en El Cobre y después visitar a Santiago de Cuba por dos dias.

Se nos olvidó comprar agua al venir del aeropuerto y no hay agua en el pueblo.

No hay agua caliente en los baños.

El agua no llega al toilet. Y para descargar hay que meter la mano en el tanque para halar la cadena – o, en realidad el cordon.

Para el desayuno no hay huevo porque parece no hay huevo en Santiago hoy. (Pero la proxima mañana si todo estaba bien.)

Tuvieron que cerrar ta capilla porque se metió un burro.

La misa en la Basílica del Cobre fue bella y pude pedir por todos los niños de la familia y dar gracias por las incalculable bendiciones.

Las tres Cubanas que nos acompañan son una bendición, pero tienen dificultad con el silencio.

Creo que la merienda fue una leyendo – no! Es que la movieron para el cuarto de afuera.

Voces del pueblo que se oyen desde el convento: “¡Hay pepino, cebollas y ajo!”, (el vendedor callejero).

A Emaus se le rompio la campana – No! Solo fue una broma de los participantes.

Caminé hasta el cementerio, y encontré a los vecinos del frente tocando Pit Bull y preparando la finca para la fiesta familiar en la fortaleza. (Los dueños viven en Miami.)

Misa con Cachita. Increible. Nunca me imaginé que iba ir a unos Ejercicios Espirituales en El Cobre… Y, para poner la tapa al pomo, celebramos misa en la capilla pequeña con la Virgen en el altar – y solo 9 personas… ¡Bello!

Compartir los Ejercicios con tres señoras de Baire – donde fue el Grito – fue una experiencia muy bonita…. Al igual que compartir la casa con el Retiro de Emaus.

Los frutos de los Ejercicios son incalculable. El silencio – aunque modificado en este caso – tiene tanto valor. La dirección espiritual del P. Domingo Gracias – y lo que compartió de su Parroquia en Vista Alegre – estuvo muy bueno. ¡Un gran hombre!… Otros recuerdos y momentos:

》 Atrevete a creer.

》 Educación complementaria es la frase del Partido para darle la bienvenida a la iglesia en el campo de educación.

》 ¿Que te hace llorár? / ¿Que te trae una sonrisa? / ¿Que causa que tu corazón late fuerte?

Despedir a Cubanos en la isla siempre es difícil pues siempre termina la cosa en la conversación relacionada a cuanto vas a dejar. (Deje todas las camisas, camisetas, y medias que traje, menos las que necesitaba para regresar.) Es una conversación poco incómoda; cada persona tiene manera diferente de tratarla. Pero es indispensable. Hay que entran en ella con disposición y amor, reconociendo que nunca vas a satisfacer ni a ellos ni a ti mismo… Siempre quisieras dar mas y dejar mas. Y siempre quieren más, esperan mas, necesitan mas. Y mas. Y mas… Se hace lo que el corazón te indica y pides que sea lo correcto de hacer… Reconociendo que todo lo hacemos como si todo depende de nosotros, sabiendo bien que todo depende de Dios.

… y ahora a Santiago …

Nos dice el taxista que hay discotecas en Cuba. Pero ahora también hay Discotemba para las que nos gusta la musica de los 70s y 80s.

Visitar a la Casa de la Trova fue espectacular. La primera noche tocó Los Jubilados.

Conocer a Eliades Ochoa fue una experiencia increíble… Conversar con el mas aun… Lo vimos de casualidad en el restaurante del hotelito donde nos quedamos… Después al proximo dia lo vimos otra vez con su esposa y hablamos de cotorras y perritos. Grisselle – su esposa – nos recomendó un restaurante para almorzar y allí los encontramos otra vez. (El Ranchon de Música en La Loma de San Juan.)

Un dia en Santiago: Almuerzo en el Morro, subir La Torre de la Catedral, caminar por la calle peatonal, Museo Bacardi, y Museo del Carnaval. Wow. Sentí que he recorrido a Santiago.

El ultimo dia visitamos el cementerio y la fabrica de ron… Ver esto via los ojos de otros es fascinante.

Rumbo al aeropuerto el taxi nos pide llevar a su sobrino que tiene que ir a ver a su tia. Le regalé un rollo de papel sanitario, wipes, y un javon.

En el aeropuerto hablé con el señor de Miami que dirigió el retiro de Emaus. Buena gentes ‘everywhere’… Aunque pensemos diferente en asunto de política nacional.

Pues asî termina otra visita a Cuba. Mi quinta visita en 5 años… Y espero con ansiedad regresar el mes que viene a La Habana, Cienfuego y Trinidad…

Back To Main Page

June 2019 Vacation

LONDON, BORDEAUX, PARIS

(and a day trip to Hampton Ct, Stonehenge, & Bath)

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PHOTO ALBUMS

Highlights of Highlights

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Selfies and more

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London (plus day trip to Hampton Ct., Stonehenge, and Bath) – ALL

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London – Highlights


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Hampton Ct., Stonehenge, Bath – Highlights


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Bordeaux and Wineries – ALL


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Bordeaux – Highlights


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Berto does Bordeaux


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Bordeaux Wineries – Highlights


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Paris – ALL


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Paris – Highlights


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VIDEOS

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London Calling


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Berto Does Bordeaux


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Oh PARIS!


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A REFLECTION

London, Bordeaux, Paris – and more (June 14-23, 2019)

What a wonderful time!

Got away to visit London (with a day trip to Hampton Court, Stonehenge, and Bath), Bordeaux (the city and nearby wineries), and Paris. Never had been to London; were joined by RemDana, Berto, and Jeff in Bordeaux; and revisited Paris, having been there 38 years ago for our honeymoon.

Simply magnificent!

London. Could not help but feel odd visiting the home of the original colonizers. The British Museum for all its grandeur is the place of stolen treasures. The churches are Catholic lite – I totally missed my saints and story-telling stained glass… And the whole thing about the monarchy bothered me. Not for me. Yet I am so glad I visited. I very much respect the British references to the pain and loss of wars – everywhere, including their churches. They lived through it; I did not… The Eye, the Thames, and the squares were well worth it. And then there are the pubs and the ale. Good stuff! (But about those fish and chips and pies – not so good.)

Hampton Court’s ode to Henry VIII is totally not for me. Here’s a guy who broke away from the Church because he wanted to get a divorce. Six times over… There’s something that just does not seem right to me that the genesis of a church be this… And then there’s all the anti-Catholic persecution… But, I get it. The Church of England has evolved to a legitimate Christian faith that has added so much to our broader spirituality.

Stonehenge I liked. Not for everyone. Some would say Stonehenge is just a bunch of rocks. For me, this is quite a contemplative place. A place where early humans saw the need for rituals and symbols – parts of any functioning society. Mystically interesting. Glad to have visited.

Bath looks better in pictures. Walking around it seemed grungy and unkept. Not wowed by it. But, I get the Jane Austin references and what it might have been. Not impressed.

Then it was on to Bordeaux, the City and five nearby wineries. The City was an unexpected surprise. Much bigger than I expected. Beautiful spaces, places, and architecture. Walking around was easy and a joy. The new transit system juxtaposition on the historic buildings works. The plazas work. The diversity keeps it real. The Wine Museum’s hi-tech is interesting – but wonder if it will stand the test of time. The food was excellent.

The five wineries we visited were simply out of this world. It helped we had private tours (thanks to winning the opportunity at a silent auction for our local homeless services provider.) The chateau where we stayed was wonderful. Berto enjoyed it all – and behaved as well as any 3 year old can be expected to behave in such a setting. The lunches were spectacular, including artistic food presentation – with a taste to match… And the wine? Out. Of. This. World.

Lastly there was Paris. To some an overhyped place. To us, an enchanting place. A place where we could go back to over and over. The sights are never tiring. The vistas are so majestic. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc the Triomphe, and the Seine – all awesome. The Moulin Rouge was plain fun… Visiting Notre Dame was very special. To see this historic church wounded by the recent fire, but yet standing tall was nothing short of existential. Notre Dame as a symbol of our broken church of the moment is not lost on me. It too will be repaired, embracing the best of the past and infusing modernity as warranted.

A wonderful vacation indeed…

Reemberto

p.s.: With all the crud and crap going on in this destabilizing world, while on vacation we could not help but think lots about how important it is for people to travel, experience other worlds, appreciate diversity, and simply enjoy being with others… And, how in this United States of ours there is a deep divide between the people that like to experience different cultures and connect with others and those that rather stay put, stay with the known, and simply not care about the world outside their own… Travel on.

BERTO 24-36 Months

Pictures from “First Smile” app (taken mostly by Rembe and Dana – with original comments)

Cropped and squared ‘best’ (curated by RR1) {also seen below}

FULL VIDEO (40 minutes of Berto! Also from “First Smile”)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictures from “First Smile” app (taken mostly by Rembe and Dana – with original comments)

FULL VIDEO (40 minutes of Berto! Also from “First Smile”)

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FELIZ NAVIDAD 2018

FELIZ NAVIDAD 2018

Pictures   /   Video

What a year indeed!

Our year was full of blessings and experiences. We continue our journey in Silver Spring, Cuba, and beyond, piggying out to celebrate, traveling near and far, and enJoying life as the awesomest gift it is. Grandparenting continues to be ever more fun. And our extended familia continues to grow and grow. And grow.

The year brought sadness also. Close friends passed away; other friends lost their loved ones. These difficult moments surely bring meaning to relationships… And remind us to recommit to what matters most: Family, Friends, Faith.

In case we missed each other in person or on social media, please check out www.Reemberto.Info for highlights of our outings – and more – during the year.

Here’s to good cheers and staying connected!

www.Reemberto.Info