Travelers and Tourists
By Graziella Pogolotti
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
The large-scale tourism industry has a relatively recent history. Its initial impulse came after World War II. The rise of left-wing movements and the pressure exerted by powerful trade unions led many countries to pass laws making paid rest compulsory. For many sectors of the middle classes, the possibility of enjoying holidays was opened up.
At the same time, numerous publications disseminated the cultural values located in Third World countries. Appropriate marketing operations designed tours to famous places for destinations that were docile to the indications of trained guides. The trip was no longer an adventure. Everything was planned in advance. Back home, the tourist would not remember much of the experience lived in the pyramids of Teotihuacán, but would arrive with a bunch of trinkets billed as souvenirs.
The traveler, on the other hand, is moved by the search for the unusual. He’s going to go to some of the most remote places in the cities. You will observe the human landscape without disdaining typical foods in some modest restaurants. I confess to having belonged to this species in my younger years. When I couldn’t afford the pennies to take on bigger adventures, I decided to start at home.
At the time, I had just finished my college degree. The studies of Art History had revealed to me the importance of our colonial legacy. I obtained the assistance of two compañeras to launch us on the adventure of discovering Trinidad. We stayed in a room on the corner of Media Luna and Desengaño. The names of the streets, such as the Habaneras of Amargura, Mercaderes, lficios or la Muralla have always exerted on me a remarkable power of poetic evocation. But the Trinitarian atmosphere of those days was far from what we know today.
There were the houses of yesteryear in the midst of an impressive misery. Barefoot and ragged, the children roamed the streets, sometimes reduced to begging. The ruin of the Valle de los Ingenios plunged the city into a poverty in which some families tried to preserve the dignity of the past.
It’s been a few years. In the 60’s of the last century, in the middle of the fight against the bandits, a traveling library went along the road between Cienfuegos and Trinidad. It offered book loans for children and adults. I wanted to know the experience in a direct way. The newly-literate peasants encouraged their children to acquire the habit of reading. On that occasion, I met a unique character.
Carlos Joaquín Zerquera was one of those local historians who narrated countless anecdotes of characters from the past. He did it so neatly that his murky marriage intrigues seemed to be happening in the contemporary world. His energies were focused on the effort to rescue the Brunet Palace in order to turn it into the Romantic Museum. Resources were scarce.
Nicolás Chao, Party secretary in the region, who also sponsored the creation of the Grupo Escambray, led by Sergio Corrieri, was able to listen to the Trinitarian researcher’s homily. Little by little something was done. Recognition of the need to preserve our heritage was beginning to take shape. We did not know, in those distant 1970s, that we were investing in a future tourism that would become one of our options for economic growth. Trinidad has been reborn and has recovered its best artisan tradition.
The traveler can enjoy the uniqueness of its urban environment. Let us take great care of your specific features. Let us not fall into the mimetic temptation of Cancunizing it.
On holiday days, we can try the adventure of discovering our country. Sometimes, you don’t have to walk very far to stumble upon the surprise of the unusual. In the Havana municipality of Cotorro is the Church of Santa María del Rosario, a rural place devoured yesterday by the galloping growth of the capital. Nicolás de la Escalera, the oldest painter with a name registered in our history of art left his mark there.
In our small country, there are many corners to be rediscovered. To do this properly, we need to move, relentlessly but steadily, towards a change of mentality. Let’s not confuse the popular with the uncouth. Let us discard the reductionist vision of culture as an ornament and recognize in it the nourishing source of a spirituality that defines our uniqueness, that is, our identity. Managing with intelligence, avoiding the banal commercialization of the peddlers, is a good that can translate into tangible material benefits.
Let us abandon the formal routine of commemorations. Let us make each of them an event open to wider horizons. In these days we have remembered the bicentenary of the San Alejandro foundation.
Let us abandon the formal routine of commemorations. Let us make each of them an event open to wider horizons. In those days we remembered the bicentenary of the foundation of St. Alexander. The history of the Academy was one of light and shadow. The triumph of the Revolution brought about a substantial change by bringing about the emergence of the long-neglected artistic avant-garde. The tribute to the date would be an opportunity to find in our National Museum the work of those who passed through it along with the insurgents who rebelled against the obsolescence of their curricula.
Welcome to the sunny days and the beach, as well as the festivities that animate summer days. Let us also learn to take advantage of the weeks of rest to turn our gaze inward and devote some moments to productive meditation.
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