A Visit to Las Tunas

Photo Feature by Caridad

Las Tunas, Cuba

The name of the city of Las Tunas comes from the Opuntia Dinelli or the “Tuna Brava,” a type of prickly pear cactus that proliferated on the cattle ranch of Jesus Gamboa back in the times of Spanish colonialism.

As the story goes, when some merchant went to that ranch, Jesus gave him a tunas plant to plant in front of his house, because —according to the descendants of Africans who lived in the region— the tunas served to protect one’s home against envy and the “evil eye”, repel curses and bring well-being for those who grow the plant. This is why many people used to say: “I’m going to the Las Tunas hacienda,” or “I’m coming from the Las Tunas hacienda.”

Still today, one can still see many tunas plants on the roofs or at the entrances of area homes.

The town of Las Tunas is another one of Cuba’s “burnt” cities (set on fire to deprive it from the colonial invaders), though not as famous in this regard as the city of Bayamo. On the bottom edge of the town’s emblem appear the words of Major General Vicente Garcia Gonzalez, who at the time of the 1876 burning of the town said, “Burnt rather than enslaved.”

Someone described Las Tunas to me as a city that was ugly, boring and extremely hot. So the impression of it that I myself took away was much kinder than how it had been described. At least taking photos of this town is quite interesting, and often that is more than enough on a trip.

Click on the tumbnails below to view all the photos in this gallery

2 thoughts on “A Visit to Las Tunas

  • Hi Caridad, the Jesus Gamboa you’ve written about, was my great-great grandfather. I have more about the story regarding the cactus/tunas, if you’re interested. I’ll look for your response here. NGH

  • These foto essays are one of the best things about this website. Keep `em coming.

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