The Consolation Prize

There are places that I remember in the Havana of my childhood that continue to fascinate me to this day.

One of those is the Hotel Nacional de Cuba.
I remember driving by it as a little girl and thinking it was a magical place.  Built in 1930, it played host to the rich and famous who visited our island home until our world imploded on January 1, 1959

Still, that era (the 30's and 40's) and this hotel embody a sense of nostalgia to me.  I'm guessing it stems from seeing photos of my young parents during those years, but that's not important right now.

I exchanged some emails with my blog-friend and faithful MBFCF reader, Ody earlier this year in which I told her about my fascination with this place.

Just recently her husband was planning a trip to Havana.  She gave him strict orders to bring back a souvenir from Havana, specifically from the Hotel Nacional, for me. (Shut up. I know. =D)

I could just stop right there and gush about how generous and awesome Cubans are in general and my readers specifically.  How thoughtful is that?!

Well, the husband, José, took his trip.  And even though he had his strict orders, he wasn't able to get to the Hotel Nacional to get the souvenir (which, can I just say, would have made him a golden god, and okay, maybe I'm kind of disappointed even though I really have no right to be because I had no idea any of this was happening in the first place, but that's not important right now and hey, thanks for trying José!)

But José, being a good Cuban husband, was not about to come home empty-handed.

He brought back this Cuban artisan-type plate, which Ody sent to me and is now hanging in my studio on my RED wall where I think it looks very cool. 

It says Malecón de la Habana. The car and the El Morro castle are actually in relief so they pop out and I was a little worried, but now that it's actually hanging on my wall, I'm so delighted with it. Seriously.

In fact, there's a little more to the story...
Malecon plate

Like I said at the beginning of this post, there are some places in my hometown of Havana that fascinate me.  The Hotel Nacional is definitely one of them, but there's also something about The Malecón (the sea wall) that has always intrigued me....

The lights.  Those distinctive, funny looking, T-shaped lights (to the left this photo), along the Malecón that are also depicted on the plate.

Those lights went up in the 1950's to illuminate the beautiful Malecón.  It was quite a big and prestigious appointment. Imagine being the Electrical Contractor on that job!  Those modern (well, for the 50's) lights that went up along the sea wall became an iconic part of the Malecón.

February, 1961. 

I remember taking a long, last look at the Havana skyline as our flight left in the middle of the night.  I remember catching a glimpse of the magical Hotel Nacional and then the amazing Malecón all lit up like a diamond necklace.

I could see those lights for the longest time.  It was the very last thing to fade as we headed north towards the Florida straights and our new lives.

And I remember thinking how wonderful it was that my Dad was the one who was responsible for making that look so beautiful.

Yes, my Papi, the Electrical Engineer. 

He never could have imagined that one of his company's last jobs would give me the very last memory I would ever have of Cuba.  Those iconic lights were the very last thing I saw of the land that gave me birth. 

Just like José couldn't have imagined that the silly plate he picked up in Havana as a consolation prize for this Cuban blogger in California would be so rich with meaning and induce such powerful memories.

I don't believe in coincidence; I believe in God.

Gracias, Ody and José for such a kingly gift.