Pens keep coming in at an incredible rate. This one is pretty special, an M111 the first and the least commonly found of the Originals of Their Time Series. Twenty years on it is not at all common to find these in new unused condition, but this one is. Get it now at a special price of $1,400. It will be more when it goes up on the site. And if you like, we can add a custom vintage nib assembly which will give this beauty not just the look, but the feel of a vintage 111.
Sunday, May 21, 2017
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
First my apologies for letting this last Cuba post take so long. I’m not sure why, other than the fact that February and March seemed to be very busy with both random personal stuff and lots of pen sales. And maybe I just didn’t want to let go of this final phase of our Cuba adventure.
February 10 was our final day in Cuba. We would depart from José Marti Airport on the morning of the 11th. Neither Jim nor José, our group leaders, made any secret of the fact that they wanted us to go out with a splash, that they were going to make that last day extraordinary. Spoiler alert: they did.
But let’s start. We began, as we did, with a lecture. This one nominally on architecture and preservation, but the lecturer ranged much more broadly into demographics and the problem of a declining and aging population. I did not record it but it was quite interesting and gave us a lot to think and talk about.
From there we went to the La Cabaña fortress, mostly to see the sights there, we did not tour the fortress itself and that was OK. The fort is sited on a prominatory across the harbor from the city and gives a great view of Havana from a distance.
|The city from across the bay|
|Unlike so many modern cities, the lack of population pressure has easily preserved open space|
From there we got some retail therapy at a massive Almacenes de San José market near the port of Havana which offered a bit of everything from fine art to t shirts and all in between. I got a couple of typical guayabera shirts, we bought trinkets and t shirts for all. You get the idea.
|Suresh (see below) enjoys a coconut|
|while José checks his look|
Our last cultural stop of the trip was to see and meet with a group of young dancers. Apart from their talent and enthusiasm what was notable is that they worked with no government subsidies other than some very primitive performance and rehearsal space in a school.
|Cindy enjoys a last dance, and the kids enjoyed her as well|
From there we retired to our hotel for a brief rest before our final evening in Cuba. Earlier in the trip Cindy and I decided that we needed a ride in some of the vintage taxis in Havana. We mounted a minor insurrection which group leader Jim cut off with the announcement that a cab ride along the Malecon and city tour was planned to transport us our last group meal which would be at La Torre, the restaurant atop the Edificio FOCSA, the 1956 monolith that remains the tallest building in Cuba. It was a finely nostalgic evening with festivities, cake, speeches, the whole thing.
|OK, people pics--I didn't get everyone but . . .|
John and Claire (not a couple)
|Tom and Sarah (a couple)|
|Linda, Rosalie and Bob. Still hoping to catch up with Rosalie and Bob.|
|Ursula, Joan, John, Claire, Jane and Suresh, a learned, erudite and amusing fellow.|
|Jim herds Cuban taxis. Cats would have been easier. The only time in two weeks that he seemed at all ruffled.|
|Me in a '54 Roadmaster with Tom, Sharon and Sarah.|
|Riding along the Malecon|
|Note the wave in the background, the seawall is under constant pressure from rising seas|
|This one would be Linda taking a picture of me taking a picture of Linda|
Our flight the next morning was not too early and so after breakfast we bade farewell to Cuba, Havana, the Hotel Nacional and finally to one another. In truth we hung together for another day not just when we arrived in Miami in early afternoon but later back at the hotel where it had all begun two weeks earlier. On the twelfth Sharon and I flew home.
|Us waiting at the airport. The plane was only two hours late, which, we were told, was very fortunate|
|Linda and Laurie|
Some final thoughts: I write this on the 19th of April, some two months after the trip. Our group, which pledged to keep in touch and share photos, have all returned to our own lives. Dunno how it is for any others but Sharon and I have had only intermittant contact with any of our fellow travelers.
We both enjoyed the trip immensely. At times the heat proved a real challenge for Sharon and, in truth, it got to me a few times. Otherwise I sweated happily through it. The exposure to another society, one with very different values and assumptions about levels of material comfort, the value of community and culture, was invaluable. You are never too old or too “cultured” to learn.
Thorughout this segment of the blog I have tried to convey our joy and wonder. It was more than eye opening. Seeing life in Cuba from their side was invaluable. In short, it was great, as good as any trip we have ever taken in forty-five years of traveling together. Would we do it again? In a heartbeat. But this fall we will resume our touring of the US and Canada with a trip to Yellowstone and up into the Canadian Rockies. Until then, happy trails.
Friday, March 31, 2017
|View of the house from the back|
9 February 2017
We began the day in the Road Scholar way with a superb lecture by Dr. Carlos Alzugaray, one of those scholar/diplomats that represent, in one way and another, the best of any nation. This presentation resonated for me, given my background having taught American foreign policy for so many years. The presentation rather brilliantly combined a tour d’horizon with a constructivist theoretical approach.
Then we were off to the fine arts museum, a most interesting excursion. They do not, of course, allow phgotography inside the museum, which is unfortunate. The guide, a curator, gave us a historical tour of Cuban art. What struck me most was the degree to which protest art was hung, here on the walls of the official national museum. If the building looks vaguely familiar, it was built in the mid-1950s and patterned on Frank Lloyd Wright’s design for the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
|Our curator/guide, Jim, and José confer|
After the tour, lunch, and a stroll along the fabled Malecon
From there came the main event of the day, a visit to Ernest Hemingway’s farm Finca Vigia (Lookout Farm).
Hemingway spent the last twenty years of his life here with both his third wife, Martha Gellhorn, and his last wife, Mary. As with anything related to Papa, there are a multitude of stories connected to the house and as with Cuban-American relations there is a tangled story connected to the Cuban acquisition of the house. For years, apparently, the 1886 building and its contents, supposedly as Ernest and Mary left them in July 1960, were endangered by neglect.
|From the front, the view to the back|
|At the back, Hemingway's office|
|As in Key West, Hemingway wrote in a tower, behind and to the side of the house|
|The guard offered to shoot the inside of the tower office for me|
Also enshrined here is Hemingway’s fishing boat, Pilar, from which he launched a brief World War II effort to hunt German submarines operating in the Caribbean.