Monday, December 6, 2010

Havana and St Augustine – Together Again

As any historian of St Augustine knows, the ties between Havana and St Augustine are many and very close.  Unfortunately, much of that sense of connection was lost in the chaos of 20th century politics – but all of a sudden, it looks like we might be rediscovering it.

A group of historians and preservationists from Havana arrived to give a talk on Cuban historic preservation at Flagler College.  We had hoped to be able to give them a tour of Tolomato Cemetery, with its important Cuban connections, and fortunately they were able to fit us into their schedule.  Here we are, bundled up for this cold day: Magda Reski Aguirre, Janet Jordan, Elizabeth Duran Gessner, Ana Lourdes Soto Perez, and Julio Larramendi.  Oh, and Father Varela…


It was like a homecoming for them. They saw first-hand the strong connections, not only with people such as Fr. Felix Varela, the intellectual author of Cuban independence, but even with ordinary folk, such as the Huertas/Ripoll family, Cuban exiles who commemorated their great-great-grandmother who is buried in the cemetery.

We are already talking about an exchange program and perhaps about producing a book or at least some essays on the Havana-St Augustine connection.  We hope you will see some blog posts from our Cuban cousins in the future, possibly on the Tolomato Indians (whose descendants live near Havana) and possibly on their spectacular historic cemetery, El Cementerio de Cristóbal Colón, which was founded in 1876 and would be similar to Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta,  or one of their many earlier cemeteries that would be similar to Tolomato. 

¡Bienvenidos!  Hace mucho tiempo que no nos vemos…

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