My interesting places are not always in the centre of activity. I had seen that there was an agricultural show being held in the fairground in Boyeros on the outskirts of Havana, and so I had to go.
Is it for tourists?
Only if you are like me. First clue is that all the information about it is in Spanish.
It is meant for people with an agricultural interest – and mine has always been so. The fascination to me is like that of an old fashioned hardware store –there is always something new to discover. Here there were displays of agricultural produce …
…and in the baskets of fruit lay temptations to my Australian palette: mangoes, pineapples, sweet oranges, limes and lemons, bananas and of course – our staple when we cooked at the apartment in Havana - beans.
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We bought some popcorn from a typical popcorn vendor - the popcorn being served in small paper cones.
You see the popcorn vendors often by the bus and ferry stops and along the Prado…but oh how I longed for butter and salt!
We were getting hungry as we wandered and so stopped for a pork sandwich, the pork freshly cut from a barbequed suckling pig…
We followed these horses, linked with rope by tail as they were led back to the stalls.
Cuban horse breeds have benefited from cross breeding which began with Arabians from Spain. There are several specifically Cuban breeds:
The Creolia with heritage from Arabian, Saddler and Morgan bloodlines.
The big eyed Cuban Paso with its small elegant head and ears -
and the Cuban Pinto reflecting its Quarter Horse bloodlines.
Having had Quarter Horses myself I appreciated the ability to be around these elegant and well cared for animals.
Despite the old joke: “Why would you have a Quarter Horse when you can have a whole one?”, I have a long lasting respect and love of these stout-hearted animals and their loyalty.
Quarter Horses are a joy to watch working, for their intelligence supplements that of the rider.
I figured that where there were horses like this, there were cowboys, so I followed this bareback rider…
… and found my cowboy riding on the back of a jeep.
He was very elegantly attired, and with the most stylish of cowboy boots.
Given his pose it would have been rude not to notice, but even so, I would have had to take a picture of these boots!
Where there are cowboys there are saddles, and Cuban saddles are works of art, as I saw when I got closer to this tethered horse outside the well-kept fair barn.
The craft of the “albardeiro” or saddler was well displayed here. The saddles are usually lined with pig, cattle, or horse skin and sometimes decorated with small woollen flowers – but here were saddles for the working stockman.
A beautifully tooled leather stock saddle took my fancy…
…and this more elaborate affair was a saddlery work of art in itself.
Ideally, a saddle should be made for the particular horse as it’s main function is to distribute the weight of the rider over a wide area of the animal’s back and to have the rider at the point of balance.
However, like footwear for people – saddles are more often manufactured en masse. In saddles the sizes are more generalised- basically being either narrow, medium, or broad, with one of four lengths.
The skirts, designed to protect the rider from the horse's sweat and to cover the girth, were here beautifully tooled.
The smaller straps provide for carrying canteens, weatherproofs, etc.
The display provided a few examples of Cuban stock saddles – all beautifully crafted.
But we were aware that the judging of the bulls was beginning, and hurried over to the arena.
We had a quick look, but decided to head back into Havana where we were to meet some friends, but before doing so, sought out something else to eat.
Here, there was clever production line underway, the man sharpening reeds to use as skewers…
He had obviously cut bags full of reeds to bring to the fair, supplementing his income by making best use of what was available.
The skewered kebabs were then grilled over a piece of wire fence laid over half a 44 gallon drum barbeque.
… and once cooked, formed a mouth watering selection from which to choose.
We started walking, munching our kebabs as we went.
A vehicle approached and was duly waved down by my friends.
Swallowing the last mouthfuls, we crammed in and whisked back to Habana Centro.
My companions had an unending capacity to enjoy the moments of each day, yet have so little in material wealth.
They epitomised Leo Tolstoy’s instruction:
If you want to be happy, be
More Havana pages:
Havana Capitol Building
Havana Creative Transportation
Havana Classic Cars
Havana Political Demonstration
Havana Fish and Philosophy
Havana Street Water-Skiing
Havana Back Street Rambles
Havana The Art of Dominoes
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