By Briana Lionetti
We started our day off at the Rafael Trejo boxing gym in Havana. We met Lisuan Lopez, 20, who was getting a bicep massage from his trainer Anna Somma. While my translator, Briceyda Landaverde, and I were talking to him we heard a familiar voice – Adele. I interrupted the interview and asked Bri to ask what other music he likes, he said, 50 Cent, Wiz Khalifa, Pitbull and Tyga – all mainstream American musicians.
Through the boxing ring I saw a little head bopping around the punching bag. Jorli, 5, was practicing his left and right hooks.
After the boxing gym, we went to Ernest Hemingway’s estate 10 miles east of Havana. Before making the walk up to the estate, we watched a little league baseball practice. After that, we met the Deputy Director of the Ernest Hemingway Museum, Isbel Ferreiro-Garit. She gave us a tour of the house – but from the outside, since no visitors are allowed in the house.
Isbel told us how Hemingway was very neurotic and would write his weight on the bathroom wall – before a meal, after a meal, and whether or not he drank alcohol during his meals. She told us fun facts too – like how he had 59 cats, how Benito Mussolini wanted to buy his antelope trophy, and that Hemingway ripped up the $20,000 check for it. She then showed us the little cemetery built in front of his boat, Pilar, for his beloved dogs– Black, Negrita, Linda and Neron.
We then went out to eat at El Divino. The restaurant was in a dilapidated dead end, but the inside looked like a modern-day American restaurant. Across from my table were two huge murals – one of Fidel making a speech and a realistic painting of his hands. The food was so delicious – I got chickpeas for appetizers, lasagna for lunch and chocolate and coconut ice cream inside a coconut for dessert.
The group was separated into four tables and at the table next to me I hear Abby Del Vecchio erupt in laughter – little did I know her laugh would be one of the highlights of the trip. She asked for an “iced coffee” and she was brought a hot espresso with ice cubes. When she asked for milk, the cup that it was brought in was warm. While this may seem like an insignificant detail to the trip, this is how the country is – totally bizarre and none of it made much sense to me.
We then went to Cojimar, one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite Cuban towns. While walking along the boardwalk, people were singing Spanish songs and hanging out on the pier looking into the beautiful blue Caribbean water.
After this we went to artist Reynario Tamayo’s house in Miramar. Tamayo’s house was sprinkled with art that is meant to link the US and Cuba with their one common interest: baseball. Alexa Coveney and Abby did a video on Tamayo and what his artistic goals are.
After this, the night was ours. We planned to go out and explore Cuban nightlife. When we all met in the Hotel Capri lobby we all looked at each other in slight disbelief – all seven of us were in black. You can take us women out of New York, but you can’t take the New York out of us.
We initially tried two bars – then we opened the door of the third bar, “Yellow Submarine,” and we heard a female voice belting out R.E.M.’s “Losing my Religion.” Sold.
Throughout the night we only heard American songs – it was here on the second night that the U.S. and Cuba could most definitely be friends again after their nasty divorce.