Things to Do in Bayamo, Cuba

boulevar-y-museo-de-ceraYanelys Nuñez Leyva

HAVANA TIMES — All the people I told I would be visiting Bayamo, Granma agreed I would like the city.

Located on General Garcia street, Bayamo’s main boulevard has many charms. In addition to being in excellent condition and boasting an enviable cleanliness, the place is home to a broad variety of commercial and cultural establishments. Below is a list of everything I saw during my brief stroll there:

Two ice-cream parlors, one for children and one for adults
An aquarium
A hamburger place
A cultural center (called 500 Aniversario, “500th Anniversary”)
A wax museum
A vegetarian restaurant
A place that sells rissoles
A piano–bar
A radio broadcaster
A place where juices and fruits are sold
A bookstore, where I purchased Los placeres del exilio (“The Pleasures of Exile”) and The Conspiracy of Equals.

The Bayamo Was Museum
The Bayamo Was Museum

We had traveled to Bayamo to take part in the Primavera Teatral (“Theatre Spring”) festival, so we of course also saw a number of plays.

The Bayamo theater, inaugurated in 2007, is a spectacular venue. Though it is a large, comfortable establishment, it is a tad distant from the heart of the city. I am sure this is why there were so few people there the day we saw Mama (“Mom”), staged by the Alas D’Cuba company.

The play, directed by Fernando Muñoz, explored a dictatorial mother-child relationship that unfolded in a dark, incestuous place removed from the world.

The struggle arising from the rebellious nature of a daughter and the submissive attitude of a son prompt reflections about madness, love, fear, overprotectiveness and, of course, freedom.

Another surprisingly nice theater is the Jose J. Palma. It isn’t as big as the Bayamo Theater but is equally special. In this same theater, we saw another play, written by Freddy Nuñez Estenoz, Lo que te voy a contar (“What I’m About to Tell You”).

The play is a re-staging of Cinderella in which the main characters are free black people from colonial times that enjoy a fair degree of social recognition.  The actors, members of Ciego de Avila’s Polichinela theater company, use a series of puppets in a spontaneous, free and dynamic way, making the audience (chiefly made up of children) laugh on more than one occasion. That said, I believe a number of the play’s details ought to be reconsidered, because the story reproduces stereotypes about black people at some points.

Mamá
Mamá

Another day, when we had a bit more time, we visited the painting exhibition at the 500 Aniversario gallery and then headed down to the wax museum.

The museum doesn’t house all that many pieces, but those on display are well made and realistic. Their authors, a family surnamed Barrios, are self-taught artists who live in the municipality of Guisa. The museum opened in 2004 with a number of desiccated animals on display. In 2007, it incorporated its first human figures to the collection.

There, we saw musicians, writers, patriots and the victims of sabotage (the Italian tourist Fabio Di Selmo, who died in the bombing of a hotel) – a total of 14 wax figures set up among desiccated animals (most of them winged).

Talking to people, we found out they are planning to include more women in the collection, but that the decision does not depend on the management by rather the municipal government. The way I see it, that is unjustified. If the museum has its researchers and experts, there is no reason someone from outside the museum should have the last word.

To be continued…

Click on the thumbnails below to view all the photos in this gallery. On your PC or laptop, you can use the directional arrows on the keyboard to move within the gallery. On cell phones use the keys on the screen.

Yanelys Nuñez

Yanelys Nuñez Leyva: Writing is to expose oneself, undress before the inquisitive eyes of all. I like to write, not because I have developed a real fondness for nudity, but because I love composing words, thinking of stories, phrases that touch, images that provoke different feelings. Here I have a place to talk about art, life, me. In the end, feeling good about what you do is what matters; either with or without clothing.


10 thoughts on “Things to Do in Bayamo, Cuba

  • July 2, 2014 at 3:38 pm
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    Thanks for the story and fotos, Yanelys! Bayamo is one of my favorite Cuban towns, too. I have visited it twice. I had a similar experience at the Casa Teatro Jose Joaquin Palma. Since it was raining, only a handfull of patrons showed; in fact, so few that we all sat on plastic chairs around the apron of the stage to see a wonderful drama, “Neba,” (“Neva”?), about the complicated and heartbreaking relationship between three actors in 19th Century St. Petersburg.
    Any nominations for female figures for the wax museum? I nominate Maria Teresa Vera, Celia Sanchez Manduley, and (though “only” a fictional character, but why not, since she was undoubtedly based on a a “real” character, “Cecelia Valdez”)!

  • June 27, 2014 at 8:05 am
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    thanks

  • June 27, 2014 at 8:03 am
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    Why can’t it have a link? That’s rather strange.
    Anyway as long as it has havanatimes.org and the writer’s credit that will be OK:

  • June 27, 2014 at 7:36 am
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    Yes, we can provide a credit, but unfortunately not a link. Is that still ok?

  • June 26, 2014 at 6:37 pm
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    Yes, it’s ok to republish the post. What we request is that you give credit to the writer and put a link to Havana Times.

  • June 26, 2014 at 11:11 am
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    Hi Yanelys. We’d love to post this great strory on VisitCuba.com. Would that be ok?

  • June 25, 2014 at 7:07 pm
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    Nice little story & photos Yanelys! I have been to Bayamo several times and I enjoyed seeing the interesting artwork and wooden carvings along some of the streets there. The wax museum is small but worth visiting – I particularly liked all the birds on display in one part of the room.
    JennyC

  • June 24, 2014 at 4:32 pm
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    I did the Santiago to Havana roundtrip in a rented car and you are correct. We are going soon again and I told my Cuban wife I am bringing my toilet seat and paper,but with all its issues I cannot get enough that place.

  • June 24, 2014 at 10:51 am
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    In as much as my in-laws live in Guantanamo, I have traveled to eastern Cuba quite often. I always enjoy the ‘Cuba’ that exists outside of Havana. The people are more genuine and less likely to want to ‘enganarme’ or scam me. The only negative to traveling outside of Havana is the travel itself. Whether by bus or even plane, there is always drama with getting tickets, delays, broken equipment and the actual travel conditions. What is so hard about keeping toilets working? I have never dared to travel east by train simply because of all the horror stories. My wife and I rented a car once and drove from Havana to Guantanamo. Even that trip was not drama-free. We stopped in Camaguey the first night and when we tried to check into a hotel, the front desk demanded to keep my wife’s Cuban passport at the desk. WTF? They also wanted to see proof of our marriage, i.e.marriage certificate. Keep in mind, everybody in the hotel recognized her from her time as anchor on the morning news. Still, everywhere I have been, Cienfuegos, Ciega de Avila, Bayamo, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin and Guantanamo have been good visits overall. Its the getting there in Cuba that’s the problem.

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