Cuba and U.S. relations have improved enough that visiting is no longer impossible. One must apply for the appropriately categorized trip on their visa. Cuba is almost indescribable in less than fifty thousand words, but suffice it to say the culture, history, and nature are uniquely beautiful. And the people are unlike anywhere else – a particular kindness, and an unusual sense of safety for two women traveling alone, was a pleasant surprise.
From the different neighborhoods of Havana, to mountains, wildlife, and history, there’s much to explore. Art and culture of Cuba is particularly interesting to me. In Havana, music and the visual arts have a vibrant presence. Areas like the Callejon de Hamel is rich culturally with small artisan markets.
Just outside of Havana, an outsider artist named Jose Fuster turned the neighborhood into a tiled installation. Fusterlandia has developed over the course of decades, enveloping homes, offices, bus stops, fountains, benches, by Fuster’s whimsical artwork. His tiles coat the neighborhood in a rainbow of strange, enchanting fantasy of imagery including chickens, enormous eyes, blowfish, mermaids, and quasi-religious figures (usually next to more chickens).
Fusterlandia draws tourists and visitors, brings in money and has revitalized what was historically an economically depressed area.
Enormous flowers, twisting multi colored beams, silhouettes and mosaic murals of two eyed goats; Fusterlandia is what it would feel like to walk through a Picasso painting in the middle of a Cuban neighborhood by the seaside. Houses in the neighborhood also have their own beautifully incorporated tile work.
Perhaps the most interesting part of Fusterlandia was the neighborhood of Jaimanitas. It has ongoing murals and future projects are sketched out along the walls surrounding the homes, waiting for tiles.
While walking around in the center of the installation, people are adding and repairing, constantly working to improve and add to the project. It feels like a living artwork amongst the homes.