En route to Athens I was emailing with Lida Tsene, the art director of the Comicdom ConFestival, and a friend of myself and Paige Braddock for five years now. Lida said we would meet with the Cuban Ambassador Friday at 10am. It hit me then that I hadn’t brushed up on my Spanish in the last couple of weeks. I could kick myself! Nor had I brought my notes with some expressions from five years ago. What a dummy!
I came down into the lobby to see if I could catch my Cuban friends in the cafe or the lounge. I thought they would be tired … but not at all. I caught four of them just as they were ready to go out for a “look see” with a Cuban friend of Adan who now lives in Athens. He is a photographer here, and he told me that his first teacher was Perfecto Romero. Coincidentally, we had met Perfecto in Havana through the newspaper that we visited, and we were fortunate enough to have him show us his portfolio of historical photos of Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, and Che Guevara from the early days. Perfecto has had an impressive career and portfolio. When I was looking at it there in Havana I was overwhelmed by the tie to history this man has, and wishing that everyone could see his beautiful photographs.
Meeting up with four of the group from Havana.
They are: Laz, Nico, Falco and Adan. It is easy to just know them by one name as Sparky was always just “Sparky.”
At any rate, the five of us started out and I was going to go with them, but it was a little chilly and I didn’t have a jacket with me, so I just walked around the plaza and looked into the gardens next to the Presidential Palace where I had watched a Petanque game five years ago, before heading to the café for some soup before bed.
Friday morning we met the Cuban Ambassador, Luis Prado Garcia, and his deputy, Eliselia Suarez, at our hotel for a coffee. We were all invited to a show of the political cartoons of three of our visiting cartoonists; Laz, Falco, and Adan (plus the work of others) at the Instituto Cervantes that evening.
Here we are, the four from last night, Falco and Laz on the left, joined by animator KiKi and Arlene Fernandez next to him. Deputy Suarez and Ambassador Garcia are in the back. Next to me is Lida Tsene the art director of the Festival and a friend. On the far right are Adan and Nico.
The seven of us set out for the old town, Plaka, and the Acropolis. I am amazed I could round them all up for this photo. They were in awe of being in a place they had only dreamed of. And they almost walked around in a daze. It was a joy to realize what was in their hearts.