City of Che

Santa Clara Travel Blog

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Fireworks - Remedios. Do they really let these off at Christmas?

On to Santa Clara, a provincial capital and dedicated to the memory of Che. Much less touristy, much busier than Trinidad with a largeish University. Cari met us at the bus station and we taxied 2km to her casa, a well kept house near the centre. You only scratch surfaces and fully understand little. Her married son lives upstairs and teaches English. Thursday he didn't work and Friday he went to the Uni to improve his English. We were not properly introduced to his wife, but did meet his beagle!  Cari's daughter works in Nicaragua on a Cuban government scheme. A nephew studying sports science lives in the house. Another nephew, a lawyer, lives nearby and comes every eveinng to help her cook our meal.

Street vendor, Santa Clara
In the mornings a woman in her 20s comes to help with housework. Indeed Miriam in Trinidad and Anita in Ciefuegos had help too. On Saturday, Cari went to buy fruit and veg for friends in Trinidad where they are scarce, as a car was going to Trinidad.

Friday we took a taxi to the delightful one horse colonial town of Remedios. The taxi driver told us proudly of Cuban achievements, and how after the fall of the Soviets the US had expected Cuba "to wave the white flag," but how it did not and would never give in. And Toe-nee Blay- ear had been mad Bush's lap dog. The town centre is very clean. No cycling it says in the main square and cyclists do get off and push their bikes very obediently. In the mornings, classes of young schoolchildren do their PE exercises in the town square.

Che
On Thursday evening there was a free concert by the Provincial Chamber Orchestra in an Empire style salon, with great plaster swags and fine acoustics but naked energy saving light bulbs. The musicians were good.

At the cigar factory while no virgin's thighs were on view all the manufacture and labelling is by hand.

Santa Clara is the city of Che. One of his great military victories was here, capturing an armoured train of 400 troops with only 18 men. The train is kept pristine as a monument to the achievemnet. Among the exhibits is a spoon used by the guerrillas!

Out of town is the Che memorial. His remains were brought there from Bolivia in 1997 where they'd lain in an unmarked grave after his abortive revolutionary activities there in the mid 60s and assassination by the CIA.

El Tren Blindado
A huge statue of him in combats together with great concrete blocks inscribed with his writings dominate a huge square. Below is his grave with those of his Bolivian platoon, lit by an eternal flame. Next door is a museum.  There is the chair he used at his grandmother's. But there are also some amazing iconic photos of him and his compatriots on guerrilla activity. How did they look so insouciant? A DVD showed Fidel addressing the crowds as the remains were interred, with great ceremony. A young girl gave an impassioned speech, "with Che in her heart."

It's all an impressive example of the cult of personality and in Cuba, Che , not Fidel, is  the personality cultivated.

Fascinating.

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Fireworks - Remedios. Do they real…
Fireworks - Remedios. Do they rea…
Street vendor, Santa Clara
Street vendor, Santa Clara
Che
Che
El Tren Blindado
El Tren Blindado
Santa Clara
photo by: lizzy1987