Going to Punta Brava!!!

And here I am again in nostalgia lane going back to my roots. Indeed I have been lucky enough to travel the world, 81 countries last count. However, it all goes back to one.. Ah well where is Punta Brava, well there is quite a few towns in various countries with the same name even back in my grandparents land of Tenerife, Spain. However, we were later and my Punta Brava sits in Havana, Cuba. 

Let me tell you a bit on my Punta Brava town of about 2K folks where I was born and left 49 + years ago.

Punta Brava is a town part of the agglomeration of La Lisa nowdays under the new administrative arrangement after the Cuban revolution. Before , it was alone just inside the city limits of Havana. It is about 21 km (about 13 mi) of city center/downtown Havana. Nearby settlements include Machurucutu to the north, La Lisa city to the east, Bauta to the southwest, and the University of Information Sciences to the southeast.

Punta Brava

There is lots of confusion as to its origins as my family claims it was around 1870 when the point coming from the Tabacco plantations and its wealth in Vuelta Abajo Pinar del Rio province passed by here on its way to the port of Havana and onwards to Spain. However, around this point bandits always ransacked the convoy so it became a punta brava or hot point. The other is that the origin of the town baptized as San Vicente de Punta Brava, located on the banks of the Camino Real de Vuelta Abajo (royal road of vuelta abajo or downward road) ,but with no mention of the bandits. In Punta Brava, at the time of its appearance as a town, there was a tile manufacture factory who made bricks. Its producs were famous for its quality, and were considered then, as the best brick tile in Cuba. In this town there were also large pineapple packers ((and as boy it was gone and we played baseball!), destemming, packing and tobacco picking workshops, cart and car workshop, and Maidenform women undergarment (my mother worked) as well as other establishments that show the economic development reached by Punta Brava at the end of the 19C.

A major event that was celebrated nationally until the revolution stopped it took place on December 7, marking the death in combat of Cuba’s greatest general. This was on the San Pedro farm, loma or hill of Cacahual, near Punta Brava, on December 7,1896, General Antonio Maceo y Grajales fell in combat. It has been the scene of different military encounters during Cuba’s fight for independence, and is most notable as the site where Maceo died at the hands of Spanish troops. For the anecdote the revolutionary dictator Castro’s father, Ángel Castro Argiz,was happy of this event as his company was the one involved in the killing of the General Maceo on this day. Angel was born in Lugo, Galicia, Spain. Fidel’s father.

 Nowdays, Punta Brava is currently like an empty, abandoned, lonely space. The splendor of yesteryear has disappeared in 61 years of socialist revolution. Of the old traditions and rituals, little or nothing remains. Without a doubt, its inhabitants are trapped in the middle of nowhere. As if they were lost in time.

Punta Brava

outside Ford 1954 inside ??

During the missile crisis,1962, the Soviets reportedly built a missile site in Guayabal near Punta Brava. By Punta Brava, passed the old Central Highway, which connects with all of Cuba, going to Arroyo Arenas, Lisa, Marianao and Havana and beyond to Pinar del Rio, and the other way going by Bauta and into the Matanzas and the rest of Cuba. It was connected by rail with its own station from at least 1909. There are several airports in relatively close proximity to Punta Brava including Playa Baracoa Airport which has been mostly used by the military and some permitted passenger service. The Havana Jose Marti international airport is at Rancho Boyeros not far at 15 km (about 9 mi).

With my mom and aunt (her sister) we used to go a lot to El Salado beach not far from Baracoa beach and airport. This was a sandy beach and some huts nice family getaway , now they have more stones… but some tourist services there.

Punta Brava

Another favorite beach of my family were Guanabo ,Santa Maria del Mar ,and of course Varadero. Do not have pictures of the first two but did visit Varadero again in 1998.

Varadero

my native town Church is the Iglesia Nuestra Senora de la Caridad ( Church of Our Lady of Charity,) which is also Cuba’s Patron Saint  located at Ave. 249  betwen  42 and 44 streets, I grew up at Ave 247 in Punta Brava. Again not much on it just for the memories. When Pope John Paul II visited Cuba shortly after the Virgin of  Charity (Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre) or the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary , patron Saint of Cuba was brought all over and passed by Punta Brava! My family sent me the photo.

Punta Brava

While in my last visit in 2012, , I asked my assigned driver to take me to my native town of Punta Brava, visiting family aunt and cousins (which by now left Cuba too) , I ate at a typical Cuban casa paladar in pesos nacionales (for the locals as tourist have the apartheid convertible pesos), a dish of roast pork,moros black beans,yucca, tostones in garlic sauce (green plantains) , salad of tomatos and lettuce, plus coffee and four beers for two persons at about 260 Cuban Pesos Nacionales. The place was just in Calzada (main street Avenida 51, aka Central Highway) before turning left to Guatao,if coming from Havana. It was nice as was there with my remaining family at the time.

If you want to see my pictures as a boy in Havana/Punta Brava I have a post in my blog with these old photos; here: Paris1972-Versailles2003 blog on Punta Brava Havana child days post

As said , the time passes by and all we have is blurred memories of always. A time, a place, a dot in my world map, that is in another world. Hope you enjoy this personal post on my always Punta Brava, Havana, Cuba!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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