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Welcome, new members!

Kelsey Corlett-Rivera

 

Originally from Montana, Kelsey Corlett-Rivera graduated from Harvard University in 2005 with a B.A. in Romance Languages and Literature.  While there, she spent time abroad in Chile, where she interned for an environmental education NGO, and in Italy, where she spent a semester at the Università degli Studi di Genova.  After college, Kelsey worked as a project manager in the translation/interpretation industry, first at the U.S. Department of State and later with a private company.  Since returning to graduate school in 2010, she has worked with the University of Maryland Libraries as the subject specialist for French, Italian, and German, and has now assumed responsibility for collections in Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American Studies as the Librarian for the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.  Her husband is from El Salvador, where they travel frequently.

El muro, Eduardo Hernándos Santos' homage to the Cuban trans community.

 

Red Trillium Press/ Aqui en la lucha is the work of new SALALM member, Steven Daiber, who is based in Massachusetts. Daiber has worked with books for more than twenty years. He has been to Cuba regularly since 2001 and has facilitated dialogue between Cuban and foreign artists. His books create real, metaphorical objects: palaces of the memory in which each element underscores a meaning. The artists Daiber represents and the books he creates in collaboration with Cuban artists tell stories of the lived reality in Cuba in the 21st century.

 

 

 

María R. Estorino

 

Since 2007, María R. Estorino has worked as the Deputy Chair of the Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami Libraries, where she began her career in 2001 as archivist and project director on a digitization grant.  She obtained degrees in history from Loyola University New Orleans and Northeastern University and an MSLS from Simmons College.  Her professional interests include scholarly and academic programs in special collections, the documentation of underrepresented communities, Hispanic manuscript collections in U.S. repositories, and Latinos in the archival profession.  She lives in Miami with her husband and two daughters.

 

 

 

Carolyn Palaima

 

Carolyn Palaima’s MA is in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas. She started working on LANIC
<http://www.lanic.utexas.edu> at the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS) in 1990, serving as Project Director. In 2011, LANIC moved to the University of Texas Libraries. Palaima now serve as Program Manager for LLILAS and the Benson Collection with a focus on development
of digital resources and management of grant programs.

 

 

Betsaida M. Reyes works as an Instructional Supports Associate at the University at Albany Main Library. She has worked at the University at Albany Library for the past three years in the Acquisition Division of Technical Services and Collection Development Department before working in the Cataloging Department in January of this year. Reyes holds a BA in English and Spanish as well as an MA in Hispanic Literature and Linguistics from the University at Albany. She will finish her MSIS in May of 2013. This fall, she will be working with Alison Hicks and the Communications Committee on a project regarding the SALALM website.

 

Sara Rubinow is a recent MLIS graduate of Pratt Institute, which this spring awarded her a special scholarship to attend the 2012 ISKO (International Society of Knowledge Organization) conference in India, where she presented a paper on Linked Data that she co-authored. During her graduate program, Sara interned at the Bard Graduate Center Library, where she was responsible for the assessment and development of the Ibero-American collection, and also interned at the Jorge Luis Borges library of the Instituto Cervantes, where she engaged in both technical and public services. Sara serves on the planning committee for the Contemporary Artists’ Books Conference in New York City, and organized and moderated a popular session on Latin American artists’ books at the 2011 conference. Sara also holds a MA in Education from the University of Michigan and a BA in English from Oberlin College, and worked for ten years as an interactive art director prior to embarking on a career in information and library science.

Lorenzo García Vega Papers, 1969-2008 at Princeton University Library

Lorenzo García Vega Papers, 1969-2008 at Princeton University Library

Princeton’s Manuscripts Division has recently added the papers of Lorenzo García Vega to its extensive collection of archives, manuscripts and correspondence by Latin American writers and intellectuals.  A detailed description and  finding aid is already available.

Lorenzo García Vega was born in 1926 in Jagüey Grande, in the province of Matanzas, Cuba.  A poet living in exile since the late 1960s, García Vega is best known for his involvement in the literary group Orígenes.  Over his lifetime, he has published nearly two dozen works of poetry and prose, and in 1952 won Cuba’s Premio Nacional de Literatura.  García Vega became a polemical figure with the publication of Los años de Orígenes (1978), a book that offered an alternate view of the famed literary group than the one traditionally held by the Cuban reading public.  Reviled for his representation of José Lezama Lima, the group’s founder, García Vega has since suffered a kind of double exile:  the first from Cuba, and the second from the Cuban literary and intellectual milieu to which he formerly belonged.  Despite this, writers such as Antonio José Ponte and Victor Fowler celebrate García Vega’s work, abundant with repetition and often fragmented or elliptical, for its innovation and literary radicalism.

Prominent within the Lorenzo García Vega Papers are twenty-nine notebooks in which García Vega recorded daily diary entries, ideas, drafts of poems, stories and correspondence, fragments of poems and stories, recollections of dreams, quotations, and responses to literature and art.  The correspondence in the collection includes letters received by García Vega, dating from 1969 until 1996, though undated letters from Héctor Libertella regarding the manuscript of Devastación del Hotel San Luis (2007) may date into the 2000s.  Most notable are multiple letters from Guido Llinás, Octavio Paz, and Manuel Díaz Martínez.

For a complete list of archives and correspondence by Latin American writers and intellectuals at the Princeton University Library, and links to finding aids, please go to http://firestone.princeton.edu/latinam/literarymss.php.

 

Fernando Acosta-Rodríguez
Princeton University

New Publications: Fall 2011

Luis A. González (Indiana University) contributed to Collecting Global Resources (SPEC Kit 324), a national survey of North American research libraries organized by the Area Studies Department of the Herman B. Wells Library at Indiana University and published by the Association of Research Libraries (Washington, DC, 2011). The executive summary from this SPEC Kit is available here (http://www.arl.org/news/pr/spec324-20september11.shtml).

 

Peter T. Johnson and  Rhonda Neugebauer (University of California, Riverside) each contributed a chapter to Riobó, Carlos, ed. Cuban Intersections of Literary and Urban Spaces. Albany: State University of New York, 2011. Johnson’s chapter is entitled “Reading and Researching: Challenges and Strategies for Cubans” and Neugebauer’s chapter is called “Impact of the Bookmobile to Cuba Project on Library Outreach Services in Granma Province, Cuba” and deals with the Bookmobile to Cuba Project.

 

Ana María Cobos (Saddleback College) and Phil MacLeod (Emory University) have co-authored a chapter in John Ayala and Salvador Güereña, eds. Pathways to Progress: Issues and Advances in Latino Librarianship. Libraries Unlimited, 2011. ISBN 978-1-59158-644-9

 

Holly Ackerman (Duke University) is a contributing editor and author of several essays in a two-volume set released by Scribner’s Sons titled Cuba, Culture, History­ by Alan West Durán.  A joint project between Cuban and U.S. scholars, it contains 300 essays – half by island scholars and half from U.S./Europe. It will be out as an ebook in January. Congratulations to Holly! — Hortensia Calvo, Tulane University

Congratulations to all!

Archivist for the Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami Libraries

The Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami Libraries seeks an Archivist to process manuscript collections and archival materials and help plan, organize, and implement systems and procedures for maintaining physical and intellectual control over such collections with the goal of preserving and improving access to these collections.

To learn more: http://www.library.miami.edu/about/employment/faculty_chcarchivist.html

 

María R. Estorino
Deputy Chair & Chief Operations Manager
Cuban Heritage Collection
University of Miami Libraries
PO Box 248214
Coral Gables, FL 33124-0320
305-284-5854 (o)
305-284-4901(f)
http://library.miami.edu/chc/

Letter from the Bookmobile to Cuba Project

Dear Supporters of our Bookmobile to Cuba Project:

We want to share with you some impressions from our most recent visit to Cuba to observe the Bookmobile in action in Granma Province (see http://bookmobile.wordpress.com). We traveled to the city of Bayamo in January 2011 to spend time with, observe and learn from the Bookmobile librarians and its many users.  We took daily trips with library staff on the Bookmobile, and visited 14 sites on the Bookmobile’s many school-year routes.  In this way, we met hundreds of patrons of the bookmobile in the towns and schools along its routes. We talked with teachers and librarians in their classrooms and in the school libraries.  At the schools, we were also treated to several specially-prepared children’s plays, song and dance performances and delightful presentations on the books that the students had read and liked.  The students summarized their books and then shared the moral of the story, or el entendimiento que tuve con el libro, i.e. “the understanding/learning that I got from the book.”

It was a great pleasure to see first-hand the children’s excitement when the visiting Bookmobile which had arrived at their town or school.  The children ran to the bus and shouted to their friends that the Bookmobile was there. At several stops the entire school yard filled with animated students in lively discussions about new books they just found on the Bookmobile.

As a result of our visits, we gained valuable information about the uses and needs of the Bookmobile. We confirmed also that the Bookmobile had become an integral component of the provincial library’s Outreach Services. We were happy (and somewhat surprised) to learn that there was an immediate need for more children’s books. Not only did the books show signs of wear, the titles were always in extremely high demand circulating among patrons. At nearly every stop, ¾ of the children’s books were checked out.

To assist us in this new challenge – to refill the children’s titles on the Bookmobile shelves – we applied for and received this year another generous grant from the Christopher Reynolds Foundation (with our first grant of $5000, we also purchased books for the Bookmobile).  We will use the latest grant monies and combine it with money from other loyal donors (like you, dear reader!) to supplement and replenish the children’s book collection on the Bookmobile shelves.  Please consider donating again to our latest drive to support children’s materials on the Bookmobile, which has assisted Cuban libraries and librarians greatly expand their services to users.

To share more about the findings of our January visit, we have prepared a slideshow for our blog describing the new and improved outreach services implemented with the Bookmobile and contains the most up-to-date information about our continuing support of the Bookmobile to Cuba Project.  Additional information is on our blog at http://bookmobile.wordpress.com. We presented the slideshow this month as part of a panel on Cuban culture at the City University of New York’s Bildner Center conference, titled “Cuba Futures:  Past and Present,” on April 2, 2011.  It was fabulous! Cubans (among them economists, sociologists, historians and many others) were allowed to attend the conference because the U.S. granted visas to a couple of dozen scholars and researchers from various Cuban institutions (universities, research centers, journals, and many, many authors). This is a nice change in U.S. travel policy.

To conclude this update, we would like to mention another project that we’ve been working on this year.  In 2010, we started gathering titles for the Young Adult Book Project, a new venture we have undertaken with the Ruben Martinez Villena Provincial Library, located in Old Havana. Together with the children’s librarian there, we have selected award-winning and nominated/recognized young adult books for their Library, helping fulfill the reading needs of teens and high school students in Old Havana. We will organize, box, and ship these with the 22nd annual Pastors for Peace Caravan organized for this summer. For more information and/or to donate titles to this project, visit our blog at: http://yacubaproject.wordpress.com.

We continue to collect donations and Spanish-language books from progressives, librarians, union members, activists, and supporters. If you would like to support our projects, we have a “wish list” of titles listed on Alibris (http://www.alibris.com)  which you can purchase and send to us for future shipments to the Bookmobile. Or, you can send donations of cash or books to 978 Norumbega Dr., Monrovia, CA 91016.

We thank you in advance for your new and continuing contributions, your in-kind donations, and your best wishes for the enduring success of the Bookmobile to Cuba Project!!!

With warm regards and many thanks,

Dana Lubow
Los Angeles Valley College

Rhonda L. Neugebauer
University of California, Riverside

Cuban Heritage Collection Photographs Now Online

Last year, the University of Miami Libraries acquired the Tom Pohrt Photograph Collection, an invaluable collection of photographic images of Cuba in the 19th and 20th centuries. With funding from the Goizueta Foundation,we digitized the entire collection, which includes album prints, daguerreotypes,* ambrotypes, and stereographs. We are excited to announce that the digital collection is now available for online viewing at http://merrick.library.miami.edu/cubanHeritage/chc5252/ (the finding aid is here: http://proust.library.miami.edu/findingaids/index.php?p=collections/controlcard&id=1058).

Tom Pohrt, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, is an author and illustrator of children’s books. He is also a collector of Cuban photographs, documents, and memorabilia. We asked him to write a guest article about his photograph collection:

The motivation behind my collecting historic photographs of Cuba began out of simple curiosity. I wanted to know more of Cuban history and its people.

A longer answer to this might come from having parents who instilled in me a sense of curiosity and the value of knowledge for its own sake. My father was a life long collector of American Indian artifacts. The Detroit Institute of Arts and the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, Wyoming are now home to this collection. The exposure growing up around my father’s passion in this aspect of American history had a rich and profound effect on me.

As an artist I have always had a great love of the visual arts, including photography. About twelve years ago I stumbled across and purchased some photographic studio portraits of Havana residents, taken in the early 20th century. I was taken by these images and wanted to know more of their story.

Like many of my generation, I grew up reading and hearing of Cuba during the years of the Cold War. I had a passing knowledge of the “Spanish American War” but that was the embarrassingly limited extent of what I knew of Cuba. Eleven years ago I had my first opportunity to travel to the island, to see and explore some of its history firsthand. It left a lasting impression and since [then] I have returned many times.

This collection was put together by purchases made from other collectors and dealers from around the world. Books and photographs were also found in the odd rare book and antique shop. Early on I decided to let the photographs I was finding direct the focus of my collecting. Soon I found that part of the strength of this collection lay in the mid 19th century photographs I was coming across. As a comprehensive history of early photography in Cuba has yet to be written, I felt this period demanded special attention.

These rare images represent a significant collection of mid 19th century photography of Cuba. Aesthetically beautiful, they are also of great importance as historical documents.

There are examples here of Cuban studio photographers as well as American itinerant photographers.

Examples of the American Civil War photographer George Barnard, whose Cuban stereo-view represent the earliest known images of slavery on the island, form part of this material. His views of Havana also give us a glimpse of life at the time.

There are 71 photographs from an album taken between 1859 and the early 1860′s documenting lighthouses from around the island, with views of Havana and outdoor views taken along the island’s northern coastline. While the photographer remains unknown there is evidence that these may have been taken by photographers (most likely Cuban) working for Charles DeForest Fredricks. C.D. Fredricks & Co. was one of the premier photographic studio in Havana in the mid 19th century.

With the wealth of historic material at the Cuban Heritage Collection, I felt this was the natural home for this material. I was also greatly impressed by the CHC Digital Collections. This service provides easy access both to scholars and to the general public.

* Learn more about one of the daguerreotypes contained in this collection: http://library.miami.edu/uml/chc/2010/03/09/rare-daguerreotype-from-havana-dated-1852-acquired-by-chc/

 

Rudolf Theodoor Kemper
University of Miami

XIX International Book Fair in Habana, Cuba. February 11-21, 2010

By Martha Mantilla

I traveled to Cuba using Pitt’s Center for Latin American Studies license and Title VI funding for book acquisition trips. The administrators from CLAS advised me to request my visa, plane ticket and hotel accommodations through MARAZUL, a travel agency located in NY.

I got my initial taste of Cuba at JFK airport in New York. From the time I joined the other passengers of this charter flight, I felt like part of a very large Cuban family traveling together. Most of them were Cubans living in the US.

Before boarding the airplane, we spent four hours making three different lines: one to get our boarding passes, another to check- in our baggage and one more to pay the airport fees. While we stand in line, people were spontaneously sharing their reasons for their travel, telling stories about live in Cuba and giving tips on what to do to avoid extra charges at the José Martí international airport in Habana. I learned that in addition to paying at the JFK airport for the luggage, we would also have to pay at the José Martí airport. The general view of the Cuban travelers was that their Cuban compatriots would try to overcharge them for their luggage. Thus, they were a little bit concerned about that. Traveling with a lot of stuff was almost the norm for most passengers since they were bringing food, medicines, and other things to their families and friends.

I engaged in a very lively conversation with the people standing besides me on the lines. I asked one of them the reason for his travel and the length of his stay in Cuba. He said that his trip was going to be short: he was going to Havana to shave Castro’s beard and come back. I started laughing! I later learned that this compatriota from Medellín, Colombia, was actually not traveling to Cuba. He was helping a Cuban passenger carrying all his stuff: suitcases, boxes, and more. My time at the airport was spent between reading “La sombra del viento” de Carlos Ruiz Zafón and listening to the most fascinating and lively conversations.

I was lucky from the start. The man next to my seat in the airplane was the eighty-year old Cuban who had spent most of the morning at the airport singing coplas that he would compose on the spot. His nice told me that it was very common for him to make coplas related to the situation he was experiencing at that particular moment and sing them. This sweet viejito coplero kept singing from time to time with joy and humor. We arrived in Havana as scheduled. I went through immigration and customs without trouble and did not have to pay any luggage fees for my tiny suitcase. The representative from MARAZUL helped me to change money and put me on a taxi on my way to hotel Vedado. I felt the wonderful breeze of the sea, saw again the lights of the Malecón and wonderful memories came back. I had been in Cuba in four previous occasions, the last one in 2000. I noticed changes on the streets. I saw Pullman buses used tourists and public transportation as well as modern cars of recent models and different makers. I did not recall seeing those on my previous trips. The bicycles and well-known old Cuban automobiles were also populating the Havana streets.

The next day I went to the Hotel Nacional, two blocks from the Vedado, to change money to CUCs. I started a conversation with a Cuban who kindly took me to a Casa de Cambios to get moneda nacional, which I needed it for buying books at the Book Fair. Many books at the fair and on the street are sold in moneda nacional. My next step was to get to the Fortaleza San Carlos de la Cabaña the fortress where the Book Fair took place. Located on the east side of the Havana Bay, this is an impressive fortress with XVIIIth Century walls. Every night at 9 p.m., soldiers dressed in suits of the epoch shoot “el cañonazo de las nueve”, (the gunshot of the nine). I took a taxi to get there. I had learned about taxis, mostly used by foreigners, which are easily recognizable and clearly marked. The jitney-like cars (colectivos), on the other hand, are basically for the Cubans. Taxis are to be paid in CUCs, thus significantly more expensive than the jitney-like cars, which are paid in moneda nacional. Some Cubans I met, being somewhat concern about me paying for taxis, wanted me to ride with them in the jitney-like cars. Indeed, I rode a jitney-like car once with a Cuban guy that I met at the Book Fair. He asked me to keep my mouth shut while riding the car because he did not want the driver to know that I was not a native. As a foreigner, I was not supposed to ride the jitney-like cars. He later offered to get for me a “cuban outfit” so that I would blend in more easily, to which I politely declined.

One of the highlights of my trip was a memorable tour that Joaquín Borges Triana gave me of Havana Vieja. We had met by e-mail when he contacted me in 2009 about his newly published book “Concierto cubano/Cuban Concert”. In our exchange of e-mails, we agreed on having coffee together if I ever traveled to Cuba. We met at the Café Escorial, a very cozy place in a beautifully renovated building with a tradition in coffee business located in la Plaza Vieja. While we walked through the narrow streets of Old Havana, Joaquín gave me a little bit of history of some of the buildings: Hotel Plaza, Gran Teatro de la Habana, the Cathedral. We stopped at the Biblioteca Publica Provincial and met Joaquín’s friend Gretell Lobelle, the Director of the library, who gave us a tour. I was very impressed with the facilities and the services of this public library as well as the José Martí Public Library, which I also visited.

What I admired the most, in both libraries, were the rooms for services to the blind and vision-impaired. Fully equipped with the latest equipment and computer technology, these rooms were attended by vision-impaired librarians trained in the use of the latest computer technology for the blind and vision-impaired users. I remember the librarian at the José Martí Public Library telling me about the endless doors that the new computer technology has opened for the blind.

At the Book Fair, I attended the presentation of Joaquin’s latest book, “La luz, bróder, la luz: Canción Cubana Contemporánea”. He introduced me to some of his friends including Victor Casaus, Director of the Centro Cultural Pablo de la Torriente Brau. This Center seeks to rescue and maintain alive the collective memory of the Cuban nation through a program called MEMORIA devoted to the research and promotion of Cuban oral history. The Centro Pablo held a number of activities commemorating the birth centennial of Miguel Hernández, including presentations of a new generation of Cuban TROVADORES in the fair’s Programa Artistico Cultural held throughout the city. I also met Fidel Díaz Castro at the Book Fair who is the Director of the Caimán Barbudo. He kindly gave me several publications including issues of Caimán Barbudo to fill gaps of the Pitt’s Latin American Collection.

I visited the Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria inematografica (ICAIC) together with Patricia Figueroa and we met with Lic. Rosa María Rovira García, Directora de Relaciones Internacionales. We talked about the Cuban Film Series that Pitt is planning for the Fall and the experience in Brown with a similar program. I also visited the Instituo Cubano de Investigación Cultural Juan Marinello and made exchange agreements. I bought some of the library materials although many of them were given to me as gifts for Pitt’s LA collection. The generosity of the Cuban people never cease to amaze me. On this trip I was reminded, once more, of the generosity that was afforded to me during a conference in Education that I attended in the mid 90s during the Período Especial. Eventhough the mid 90s were a period of economic hardship, I was tremendously moved by a teacher who gave me a gift of a T-Shirt, which I had complemented it the day before when I saw her wearing it. Once again, on this recent trip, I was surprised when a book vendor took his scarf off and gave it to me after I had completed it. The gratitude one feels, for their generosity, is hard to express in words.

My Book Fair trip to this beautiful island in the Caribbean was unforgettable. I made time to walk in the Malecón, the avenue that runs along the seawall at the northern shore of Havana, had a meal with a Cuban family, attended a concert of the Cuban Van Van and another concert of Polito Ibáñez in the teatro Mella. I met wonderful people along the way. Our exchange of e-mails is already working well. The packages with the books, journals, CDs and other materials that I acquired in Cuban are arriving safely to Pittsburgh. My fear that the materials would be lost in the mail is gone. I am already starting to dream about my next trip to Cuba.

19th International Book Fair, Habana, Cuba, February 11-21, 2010


Getting the license and authorization letter to travel to Cuba through Brown University was a smooth process. The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Brown offers a study abroad program at Casa de las Americas in La Habana and a number of students and faculty members have already set the path for Cuban travel. I received Title VI funding for the trip and was advised to request my visa and plane ticket through Common Ground Education and Travel. My port of departure from the United States was Miami where I boarded a 50 minute charter flight to La Habana.

Prior to leaving for Cuba I had made arrangements to stay at a casa particular in El Vedado. This private bed and breakfast was run by Caridad Vera and her husband Elio Rodriguez Peréz. I was so happy with their services and friendship that I created a free Webpage through Yola for them: http://casavera.yolasite.com.

I arrived in La Habana on Monday February 15th in the afternoon. Changing my Euros to Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) at the José Martí International Airport was rather easy; however I failed to also acquire a few pesos in moneda nacional which travelers need for riding the municipal bus system and purchasing a few token items. It’s recommended that you do not change US dollars to CUCs. Not only is the US dollar worth less than the CUC but there is an additional 10% bank charge for the US currency.

The next day, I was able to visit the Feria International del Libro thanks to the kindness of a stranger. Not having any moneda nacional on me as I was boarding the special bus to the Fortaleza of San Carlos de la Cabaña, I had to ask the lady standing behind me for change. She quickly offered to pay for my bus ticket and for the entrance to the fair grounds. All I had to do is keep my mouth shut since foreigners have to pay a special price. I would have gladly paid the price for extranjeros but at the time following her advice seemed like the fastest way to get to my destination. Once we got through the doors my new companion paid to have our bags put away in a locker (you cannot enter the exhibits halls with handbags) and showed me around the various rooms where the publisher and bookdealer stands were located. Unfortunately, I soon realized that most books were sold in moneda nacional and I didn’t have the heart to ask my friend for change and, through her boundless generosity, have her pay for Brown’s burgeoning Cuban book collection. I just looked around with the intention of returning the following day.

I didn’t find any materials at the fair that I couldn’t purchase through my regular bookdealer. When you purchase books in Cuba you must keep in mind that you will need special permission to take out of the country books, journals and maps published before a certain date. The Biblioteca Nacional and the Instituto del Libro will assess the materials and process the paperwork for you.

On Wednesday I visited the Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC) with Martha Mantilla. I knew a few people from the ICAIC thanks to a Cuban panel and film series that was organized last year by the Providence Latin American Film Festival (PLAFF), an annual event co-sponsored by Brown University. Unfortunately we missed the Festival de jovenes realizadores cubanos that was due to start the following week.

That afternoon I walked along the Malecón to Casa de las Americas to visit its library and bookstore. The staff was friendly and very helpful. The gentleman managing the bookstore even created a list of Cuban films I should purchase for Brown’s collection.

On Thursday, I visited the Biblioteca Nacional and La Habana Vieja were one may find small bookshops and street book vendors. In the afternoon I strolled down to the famous Heladeria Coppelia where locals and tourists alike may purchase tasty ice cream for a few pesos. Given the limited sitting space and the large crowds people are forced to share tables, a civil way to make new friends in a foreign land. I sat with a young couple attending university. They spoke about the reality of the job market for young Cubans, salaries and the varying levels of job satisfaction. Having spoken about the world financial crisis they paid for my almond ice cream. I was rather mortified, especially since I now had many pesos in moneda nacional in my pocket, but they would not have it any other way. We later exchanged e-mails.

Friday was my last full day in Cuba and I decided to visit film director and theoretician Fernando Birri (Santa Fe, Argentina, 1925) at the Escuela de Cine y Televisión de Tres Mundos (EICTV) in San Antonio de los Baños, near La Habana. Don Fernando, who donated his personal archive to Brown University two years ago, co-founded the EICTV with Colombian novelist and Nobel Prize recipient Gabriel García Márquez in 1986. Since its foundation, Birri travels to Cuba every year and stays at the school for about a month to see its progress and talk to faculty members and students. The EICTV not only offers an impressive program in film and television but is self-sustainable through agriculture.

I left Cuba on Saturday afternoon. My book fair companion made sure to meet me at the airport to say goodbye. Not once did she accept repayment for all the pesos I owed her and only reluctantly accepted my gifts of Argentinean chocolates and Panamanian cookies.

Traveling to Cuba was a unique and culturally enriching experience.

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