Am back again with my theme of the gift of time along with doing what I enjoy and sharing my stories on collecting and where this takes me.
So here I am in Havana Vieja, the old district. Just in the corner of Plaza de Armes toward the port I stumble across a collectors market, feeling tired and hungry but I couldn’t resisit a quick peak. It’s a small place, old books, coins, stamps, little things from a time gone by a hint of another era. There are cameras, postcards, and posters, the usual revolution era ones, most of these are reproduced but they are great.
Some thing catches my eye and as much as don’t want to I can’t help myself asking about a poster with former President Obama on it, and here my joureny starts. I love the poster for several reasons. It now seems controversal to like Obama, but I remeber when he won and how excited the world felt, that energy reverberated, it was time of hope. This is a collectors market and full of things from the past, we buy these things as a memory of that time. The poster causes a reaction here as people want change to happen fast and there was a lot of hope invested in Obamas visit. I do not want to make any sort of political statement here, all I am saying is change often starts with a hope and a vision and then conversation. That first step can be the hardest one.
All that said I am a fan, and I love political satire and social commentary.
Here is when the conversation starts with Raul the stall holder who sensing my interest shares with me his love of the artist Ares who created the poster. I am familiar with the poster but didn’t know anything about the artist who is one of the few graphic artists to show successfully outside of Cuba.
Raul then shows me more posters and I am leaning toward the ones that are contemporary, mostly by Ares and I feel a purchase coming on. I know my family will love them too so I am justifying this as not just reminders of my time in Havana but good gifts that I will enjoy giving.
So the deal is done, I will have to go back in a few days having changed money and have to find something to protect them in on the journey home.
Celebration lunch roof top restaurant where Hemingway stayed. Here is a good poster by Ares for a new bar, saying Hemingway was not here, a reference to a city committed in its grand restoration to pay homage to every thing and everyone that has a historic value.
More wondering and I find Ares’s studio where students can study his work, I get to eavesdrop on a lecture for teenagers on his art. The government is intent on educating people here about all aspects of culture, they are re learning old trades for restoration on an industrious scale.
On route I see an art shop that I suspect will have the art tube for me to transport the poster’s in.
Contactless payments doesn’t happen here, in every sense of the word. If you are making a purchase then there will be some sort of contact made with that person, or maybe its a connection with the person who you are making the exchange with. Even in simple exchanges there is a conversation to be had, all the time my Spanish improves if only on a moderate level but my confidence in speaking is improving along with my ability to really listen. Something that I feel has been lost in our super fast world at home.
The challenge in contrast to the ease that I have in London was one of my many reasons for traveling and being in a city where simple things like taking money from the cash machine is not a given.
First stop, queue at the bank, one of my £100 Euro notes has a very little tear on the edge and is rejected, no worries in the bigger scheme of things as I am sure that when I go to Italy later in the year this note will be fine. But at this stage I am not sure what use a bank card is here. I get the cash and go to the market to pay for the posters followed by a search of something to carry them home in. As suspected the art shop has the tube but I don’t have enough cash on me which means a walk back to my Casa and back to the bank. An assurance that I can use my bank card if I need to in future as I see my in case of emergency cash depleting. To the art shop, by the art tube, which I make a mental note to never travel without again. Back to the market and for a much-needed coffee with Raul.
Raul and I chat about our shared love of collecting, the periods in history that we like along with his taste in American rock music and English punk. We share photos of our family and when he learns that my daughter makes period costumes for theatre we arrange another meet up so that he can give me a gift for her of illustrations of period costumes.
In the meantime I post on Facebook the posters and let friends at home know that I if they want any I will buy them and bring them back, a win win, Raul makes sales and we get to enjoy this art which is not so easy for us to get in the UK.
The pictures that Raul gives me for my daughter are incredible, taken from a book from the late 1800’s,from a french book, illustrated fashion from the day. He is finding these things in what we know to be house clearances. Can you imagine finding books from that era in England and what they are worth.
So this morning its back to the bank, with my art tube and to the market, my life is Hanava is beginning to feel like my life at home.
And so this story goes on, Raul now shows me these posters from the 1970’s fashion and working women.