Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Thursday, 19th March

Jorge and me
I am given a bread roll and some sweetened black coffee for breakfast. I discover my hosts are three generations of the same family all working together in the same house. After breakfast I watch the women sit around a table picking out husks and stones from piles of rice and beans. They do this until it is time to start cooking lunch.

Meanwhile I wait, sure that the VIP treatment will extend to my being fetched and taken to the Biennial venue. However after some time this begins to look less promising. Without internet access, all the information I have is in my little notebook. Two phone numbers and the name ‘Wilfredo Lam Contemporary Art Centre’.

I try calling the numbers, but in both cases the language barrier proves too much. It looks like I will have to make my own way there. Papa, the son in my family of hosts, points me in the direction of a bus. I get onto the first bus and overpay the fare with a whole Peso. I try to ask various people including the driver how to get to Wilfredo Lam. At the next stop the bus driver starts yelling ‘Peh Uno!’ at me and effectively kicks me off the bus.

Startled at this rude behaviour, I glance around at the people gathered at the bus stop. Someone kindly signals to me that he means I should take the P1 bus. On the next P1 I am asking directions again and after sometime I am told to get off and walk. Lost in Old Havana, I eventually flag down a taxi. We drive around asking everyone on the street if they happen to know the Wilfredo Lam. It takes several hours but eventually we find it. It is next to a very famous Cathedral that everyone knows.

I meet with Pepe, one of the curators, and he shows me around the area. We walk to Parque Central, a concrete plaza where Cubans congregate to talk about baseball. Not to bet or watch, just talk. I wonder around. Later I meet with Jorge who offers to show me the bus route home when he finishes work. I end up waiting for him on the steps of the cathedral, and begin talking to a man named Luis who has piercings all over his face: long needles. He poses with tourists for a living. I share some of his rum and then head home with Jorge.

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