May 3, 2007
It really wasn’t too difficult to imagine the powerhouse of Cuban politicians deliberating heavy matters. There was a significant upper-floor gallery, but I’m not sure if this would have been reserved for the press, the public, or for less weighty politicians. From here, we were led back through the president’s room with the original furniture and, attached was a smaller ante-room where presumably the local dignitaries would have waited for their important meeting with the powerful president.
Other council chambers housed state propaganda indicating the clear progress that has been made with children’s education over the years since the revolution. Although some of the text was in English, our guide was really keen to explain what the facts and figures mean for modern day Cuba. She emphasized the improvement of social care in terms of education, health, and pensions and seemed disappointed when we indicated that we wanted to move on.
Around the outside of the entrance hall were small cabinets housing a variety of regalia and old Cuban coins. For the numismatists, there was a full range of pre-revolutionary coinage, some of which, our guide told us in hushed tones, was solid silver. Medals were in plentiful supply and although these meant nothing to us, it was clear that they really excited our guide who, on occasions seemed to demand our vocal appreciation. We nodded our approval and this was a sign for us to be led into another small room, off the entrance hall, to inspect the grand uniforms of the guards and the politicians. The Presidential "top hat and tails" was standard dress and worn by the president whenever he was on official business.
Although this isn’t the most fun-packed of tours, it is packed with interest of a bygone age. An age, if we understood things correctly, when education was limited and schoolmasters wore uniforms resembling that of army commanders (beige with a peaked soft-cap) to ensure, we presume, recognition of their work and respect from pupils and parents.
This visit will only offer a short diversion from your route and, at about 15 minutes for the whole tour, I’d recommend that you call in for a visit. The walk towards it from Obispo is really interesting with the some great architecture to view en route.
From journal A day out in Havana