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S E C T I O N 2 Community S TO R I E S A B O U T P E O P L E A N D E V E N T S I N T H E C O M M U N I T Y ■ SEPTEMBER 26, 2012 ‘Cuba is what it is’ By Marie Wagner Krenz hese were our Cuban About the author: Marie Krenz guide’s first words as we is a freelance writer from Orinda arrived at the Jose Marti who spends weekends at her family home in Woodside. As a airport in Havana. She ushered former Spanish teacher, she was our “People to People” cultural especially pleased to travel in tour to the so-called V.I.P. Room, Cuba. “We entered Cuba with the where the bar was laden with blessing of the U.S. government,” snacks, rum and beer, but the she says. “We were not allowed to ladies’ room was unusable. take home cigars or rum or any of After an unexplained delay, those good things that the Cubans when everyone seemed in charge would have been delighted to sell and no one was, we escaped to a to us. This would have violated the luxurious bus and drove to our embargo.” hotel, a sharp contrast to the decaying structures of Havana’s poor. When I asked if the cost wedding rings. He demanded of paint was prohibitive, our to know about restitution. guide replied that people had The diplomat replied vaguely only limited resources and feed- that this was being discussed, ing their families took prece- but that he had never heard dence over paintabout rings being ing their houses. taken. He also Available food N DESTINATIONS said that each was inexpensive country had a lot but rationed. to offer the other if they would The Cuban people were warm only sit down to discuss their and welcoming. They seemed differences. delighted to have Americans visit Our guide admitted that there and blamed their problems on is a lot wrong in Cuba, its ineffiU.S. government policies, not us. ciency and bureaucracy, but that On our first afternoon, we no matter how bad things are attended an obligatory meeting now, it was far worse before the with a diplomat who spoke on revolution. Her grandmother the Cuban-U.S. problems. Of had to walk two miles for water course, we heard the party line and had no health care whatsobut had to concede that they had ever. Now 95 percent of Cubans a few points on their side, too. are educated, and every area has One tour member, a Miami a medical clinic. attorney, had a great deal to After that first day we gave say about the Cubans who f led ourselves over to the joy of being during the revolution and were tourists. We were taken to a cigar stripped of all their properties factory in lush, tropical Pinar and possessions, even their del Rio and then to a tobacco T Marie Krenz, left, and sister-in-law Marie Jo Wagner wait by a classic car in Cuba that they rode in on their way to dinner. “The Cuban people were warm and welcoming,” said Ms. Krenz said. plantation whose owner, Benito, was handsome enough to be a Hollywood recruit. Two of my new lady-friends smoked cigars with him in the drying sheds. I was more interested in his homestead, where chickens wandered freely while fighting cocks watched from cages. Guavas and avocados lined the barnyard, and laundry flapped on the line. We were taken to presentations of hip-hop and rumba, to concerts and art galleries, and to the residences of Ernest Hemmingway. One evening we went to an out-of-doors night club to see a fabulous song-anddance show that went on until midnight, which was too long for me. Modern cars traveled the streets of Havana, but the most prized vehicles were U.S. Chevrolets of the 1950s. Proud owners kept them painted and in repair, and our group had the pleasure of riding to dinner in five or six beauties. One friend chose a place in the back seat of a convertible, giving the Queen Firefighters to flip flapjacks for benefit breakfast Menlo Park firefighters will demonstrate their cooking skills from 7:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, at Fire Station No. 1, 300 Middlefield Road in Menlo Park, at the annual pancake breakfast to benefit the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation. The Menlo Park Fire Protection District, the Junior league of Palo Alto/Mid Peninsula, and the Stanford Park Hotel are teaming up for the 12th year to benefit the foundation, which provides programs for burn survivors in California. N AROUND TOWN Last year’s pancake breakfast raised $12,000, with more than 1,000 people attending, according to Junior League president Rahela Abbas. Along with pancakes and sausages, there will be activities for children such as face painting, arts and crafts, coloring, and posing for photos in the vintage fire engine, Old Tom. The fire district will host a silent auction featuring a dinner for four prepared by firefighters and a child’s ride to school on a fire truck. Tickets for the breakfast are available at the door, where donations will be accepted. Walk to school Corte Madera and Ormondale schools in Portola Valley will be among the San Mateo County schools to celebrate International Walk to School Day on Wednesday, Oct. 3. In Portola Valley, coordinator Kari Rust will present three days of bike and pedestrian education to prepare students, according to the San Mateo County Office of Education. Approximately 47,000 students in San Mateo County may walk to school alongside parents, teachers, and community leaders on Oct. 3, according to Karen Williams of the county Office of Education. National Bike to School Day will be held May 8, 2013. Monotype printmaking at Little House A workshop by master print- Elizabeth wave as she went. Our trip was a smash with good fellowship, frequent infusions of rum, a new respect for the Cuban people and a hope for their future. Would I return? Perhaps, but not until a change in the political climate occurs. Meanwhile, we remember the parting words of our guide: “Cuba es como una mujer. No es posible comprenderla, solamente amarla.” Cuba is like a woman. It is not possible to understand her, just love her. A maker Kathryn Kain, in conjunction with Smith-Anderson Editions in Palo Alto, will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, at Little House Activity Center, 800 Middle Ave. in Menlo Park. Ms. Kain teaches the basics of monotype printmaking, using oil-based inks, brayers, and plates to produce prints on 100 percent rag Rives BFK printmaking paper on a small etching press. Cost of the workshop is $120 and is limited to 10. Participants should bring an apron and latex gloves for protection. To register, call Julie Scales at 326-2025, ext. 229. September 26, 2012NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN25

The Almanac 09.26.2012 - section 2

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