During most of my life it was ruled by Fidel Castro, a piratical-looking communist revolutionary, firstly as Prime Minister and then as president until his resignation in 2008. What a long time he spent ruling this country through dynamic political and financial issues.
It is a small country with a population of over 11 million people, who have a wide and interesting range of ethnicity and demography. Spanish is the main language spoken.
Politics aside, my interest in Cuba developed a while back when I had more of an interest in sustainable organic farming practices. Cuban farmers and researchers, particularly over the past few decades, have been applying traditional and alternative technologies to food production and working to achieve their ultimate goal of total sustainability, to a point where they are now internationally acclaimed for their success in organic food production. One important aspect of the development has been the strong emphasis put on urban agriculture to ensure communities have immediate access to fresh produce and the medicinal plants they require, especially when fuel costs restrict distribution routes..not a bad record for a small place.
Another area of interest for me that touches on Cuba is the writing of Earnest Hemingway. I always thought of him as a very sophisticated writer when I was young, but that was probably coloured by aspects of his lifestyle...his involvement in various wars, his marriages, plane crashes and particularly his move to Cuba in 1940. He wrote one of his most acclaimed books, "The Old Man and the Sea", published in 1952 and which garnered him a Pulitzer Prize in 1953 as well as the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954 while visiting the nearby Bahamas. I like to think of him with all his cats in his lovely home, his little fishing boat, enjoying island life while writing... he remained there apart from travel expeditions until Castro came to power and confiscated private property, including his loved home, Finca Vigia in 1958. He then returned to Idaho where he lived until his death.
I some of his quotes resonate with me....
"The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them"
"There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self"
"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed"
and my favourite...
"Never confuse movement with action"
I decided to go with the tobacco plant, a crop that has always had an intrinsic association with Cuba, in my mind, being so closely aligned with the islands' international profile, and tying in with the agricultural history of the place. I also did a fair bit of reading about cigar making and I now know far more than is useful to me, but I won't bore you with that...
I hope I don't get shot for including this video...the share button was not disabled in YT so I have decided to take the risk...I simply love the voices and imagery included in this clip....
My daughter-in-law Melinda sent me these photos from an afternoon trip to the beach with Simon and the three smalls...they had great fun, although Mel said there were lots of jelly fish and other stingy things in the water, including some Blue Sea Slugs...they found one, shown here in the yellow bucket. Fortunately, there had been plenty of warnings in their area to avoid touching the little things, as they can give one a very nasty sting as they accumulate poison from eating the Siphonophorae they meet while drifting the ocean...they are only very occasionally seen in Tasmanian waters, hopefully the ocean is too cold this far south for them to take up permanent residency.
I used to love this celebration when living in Sydney...particularly the Chinese instrument concerts held in The Chinese Gardens...
The girls enjoyed some Chinese food while watching, but Sarah reported there were sadly not enough dumplings to go around everyone...reminds me...I need to buy some new bamboo steamers...I can feel a dumplingfest coming on, (It doesn't take much to persuade me).
I love it as it empties the fruit bowl of guilt-making wasteful fruit evidence and is made in moments in the food processor with minimal ingredients...whats not to love?
I was lucky he did, as it provided us with something for afternoon tea when the girls arrived.