The Foreign Correspondent and her Mother
WHERE THE REVOLUCIÓN STARTED!
The Comandancia in the Sierra Maestra, near Bayamo
I hike on the orange path, climbing over large rocks embedded in the dirt. I am almost wading through the slick mud. The weather is cool, refreshing to hike in. The view from the edge of the path is breathtaking, I could spend the whole hike just looking over the side into the valley below.
After about an hour of walking we reach a flat space that the guide says is a place for the helicopters to land. We walk past the helipad and get to a small wooden building, our guide opens the doors and we walk inside. It is dark inside, until our guide flings open the windows and grey light begins to fill the small room. As my eyes adjust to the dim light, I see that it is some sort of museum. There are old typewriters and a sewing machine. In the middle of the floor is a 3-D map of the Sierra Maestra. On the map there is a miniature flag, not the Cuban flag, but the flag of the revolution, red and black, with 26 de Julio (26 of July) on it, marking the spot where the Comandancia is.
By the wall, is the memorial plaque for a soldier who died before the revolution ended. The memorial is a simple cross made of what looks like driftwood, with his name and the date he died engraved in Spanish on a tin plate that was probably his.
When we leave the museum our guide closes the windows and doors enveloping the room in darkness again. We continue on, and soon the guide stops and points to a place where there is no grass and there are rose bushes and says that it’s the grave of the man whose memorial we saw in the museum. We move on and come to the house of the secretary, it’s empty except for some shelves built-in to the walls. After this we reach steps made of the trunks of small trees stripped of their bark. We traverse these steps carefully as they are wet and slippery. After about ten minutes we reach another building, this one the guide also had to open, inside there is a kitchen and a bedroom, our guide explains that this was Fidel’s house. We all got our picture taken with it, but we couldn’t go inside. We leave the house and pass a small building which the guide identifies as Fidel’s outhouse, so of course my papa has to get his picture taken with it.
We move on and reach a building with the letters ACTL above the door, they stand for Administracion Central de la Tierra Libre (Central Administration of the Free Land), the former headquarters of the Revolution is now an old structure on the verge of collapse, it seemed amazing it had stood this long. After this we leave the Comandancia. It’s another long hike back to the car that brought us to the trail head, interrupted only by a short coffee break on the way down.
Our Foreign Correspondent, Ula Grace, reports on her visit to Cuba with her parents Krista and Steve.