Pyramids, Mogotes and an Ambassador

The Egyptian ambassador, his wife, and some of the prizewinners.

By Fabiana del Valle

HAVANA TIMES – My daughter was excited all week. The days passed by and she imagined the moment she’d hold the prize for her work. At 11 years old, any achievement is a reason to celebrate. Even though I had my feet firmly set on the ground, I also fell into the trap.

The Provincial History Museum opened up a call for entries for the “Between Pyramids and Mogotes” competition, which was created to celebrate the Egypt-Pinar del Rio Cultural Day. The event was announced on social media, and we were super intrigued as Nadia ended up being one of the winners.

We were told to be there at 8 AM, even though the event would only begin at 9 AM. We live 50 kilometers away from the provincial capital, so we had to wake up super early to be there at that time. I made arrangements with a neighbor who travels there every day, so we got there without any setbacks.

When we got there, we were told where to go. The first two rows were reserved for important people. The prize winners would sit behind them.

The museum’s employees walked from one side to the other setting up microphones and audio equipment. A woman oversaw seating people depending on their category.

It’s the first time that I’ve ever been to such an elegant event; women were wearing high heels and men were in suits. But when the organizer cried out that he was already on his way, I understood.

The ambassador of Egypt in Cuba, Maher-El Adawy’s presence was announced. He was visiting various cultural institutions in the province over a three-day visit.

When he arrived, the awards gala began. Two songs by Ernesto Lecuona were played on the piano and violin. Afterwards, a moderator spoke about Egyptian culture and how this is a repetitive feature in many of Pinar del Rio’s artists’ literary work and paintings.

But the Ambassador spoke about diplomatic relations between his country and Cuba. The speech was long, boring and the words Fidel and Che made me lose all interest. Rounding up, he said the Cuban people could always rely on Egypt’s support. I began to laugh.

Then, the prizes finally came. Nadia won second place in the 8-12 year old Visual Arts category. She looked really happy when she got her certificate and an envelope. But her disappointment was clear when she only found a ragdoll, a pencil case, and a sticker with the Cuban and Egyptian flags on it.

Afterwards, photos were taken with the prize-winners, the Ambassador and his wife. We left and headed home. I don’t know why I was expecting something else, the discouragement seeped out of every pore of my body. Nadia is a very receptive girl and realized.

“Well it’s something, mama, remember we’re in Cuba.”


Read more from the diary of Fabiana del Valle here.

2 thoughts on “Pyramids, Mogotes and an Ambassador

  • Moses, I don’t know why you even travel to Cuba since you hate the country so much.

  • I believe that Cubans are always subconsciously, if not at times consciously, looking for something for free. Every time I visit Cuba, acquaintances with whom I have had very little contact, will often say to me when they see me “what did you bring me?” or if no shame exists “you should have told me you were coming, I would have asked you to bring me something”. It does not surprise me that Fabiana and her daughter were disappointed and that winning the recognition was not enough.

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