The third week of February this year was the final plenary meeting for InterPARES Trust, the international research project I have been working for since 2013, and we took it back to Cuba, site of the first meeting of CLAID (Caribbean and Latin American InterPARES Dissemination) in 2005. This isn’t the place to talk about the meeting – if you are interested in that, I invite you to go to the InterPARES Trust website. Here I want to celebrate amazing Havana by sharing a few of pictures and stories.
We stayed in the iconic Hotel Nacional de Cuba, now declared a national monument and inscribed in the Memory of the World register. Opened in December 1930, it began as a holiday playground for wealthy Americans and I’m sure its walls could tell many stories beyond the ones told today.
Situated in the Vedado district, the grounds have sweeping views of the ocean and Havana harbour. The two remaining guns from the Santa Clara battery sit on the grounds and in the tunnels below there is a small museum dedicated to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 where Fidel Castro and Che Guevara prepared to defend Havana from aerial attack.
Old Havana is about a 7 km walk from the hotel, and took us through mazes of streets or along the Malecon. Buildings in the old section have mostly been restored – not so for many outside the centre. I often find the juxtaposition of cruise ships (and their passengers) and the local population (and even tourists who use gentler and more integrated forms of transportation) jarring, and Havana was no different.
Everywhere I went I enjoyed good food and was met by friendly people, and realized I had found another part of the world that I want to return to and learn more about!
In November I was invited to teach in the Postgraduate Certificate program for Archival Studies, run by the International Council on Archives (East Asian regional branch) and The University of Hong Kong. I gave a full day workshop on digital preservation to archivists and records managers from across East Asia – great fun – I learn so much every time a teach a course like this!
I also had several days to explore Hong Kong – my first time there, but I hope not my last. Not sure what I expected – people told me to go shopping, and I certainly could have bought anything from every possible global brand in a number of huge, bright shopping centres (no thanks!). Instead I walked for miles all over the city, took the historic Star Ferry to Kowloon,
Hiked around the Peak and marvelled at the views,
Took a ferry to Lamma Island, saw the Kamikaze Grottos, and ate dim sum on the beach; then back on Hong Kong island visited the Man Mo Temple.
I learned that Hong Kong is a place of infinite adventure, history, and beauty – I just scratched the surface and will definitely return.
Vigur is the second largest island of the Ísafjarðardjúp fjord in Westfjords, around two kilometres in length and 400 metres in width. It is the home of a single sheep farm, and eider down production from the nesting eider ducks. And thousands of other birds – puffins, terns, guillemots, gulls. Also the only windmill in Iceland, built in the 19th century.
The terns were nesting when we visited, and they were madly protective of their young. We had to carry sticks above our heads because they would dive bomb and attack the highest point.
Driving to the Westfjords from Reykjavik exceeded expectations in terms of both beauty and “eek” factor, as we crossed single-lane bridges, drove through single-lane tunnels, and clung to the side of cliffs on narrow switchbacks with no guard rails. Continue reading “Ísafjörður – the Westfjords”
Saturday morning – oh my, the breakfast at the Silica Hotel is amazing… and then what else is there but soaking happily in the silky, milky water of the hotel’s pool and stare at the landscape… Basking sharks couldn’t be happier. This is an expensive way to start a holiday, and worth every penny. Or kroner.