Saturday, 25 August 2012

Cuba. A miracle and La Milagrosa/The Miraculous Lady. Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway. The mojito recipe

The Orambulations once went to Cuba on an excellent and comprehensive Thomas Cook tour all over the island in a minibus. We were primarily there to see daughter Siân, who was working for Unilever on an assignment.

Siân on a train

Lobby near Gentlemen's Lavatory in Hotel Sevilla

In Havana we visited the elegant Hotel Sevilla, a Moorish style building where Josephine Baker, Mafia boss Santo Trafficante, Al Capone and Graham Greene stayed. Greene later used the hotel for the setting of one of the scenes in his book Our Man in Havana: we saw the lavatory where MI6 man Hawthorne recruited hoover seller James Wormwood. This was exciting in itself.
Colon Cemetery Havana

We were taken to the National Monument, the Cristobal Colón or Christopher Columbus Cemetery, which is full of huge mausoleums and vaults, and duly shown tombs of dead Presidents, and other notables.

Another unlikely place for excitement, but it was.

While there we noticed a lot of people further away, not dressed as if for a funeral,  around a much less ornate grave, which was covered with flowers. This was not part of our tour, but never fear. Your intrepid reporter left the group and went to see what was going on. 

Grave of La Milagrosa
The grave was of la Milagrosa/ the Miraculous Lady, Amelia Goyri de la Hoz, who died aged 23 during childbirth on May 3, 1903. Rambulation gathered from the people there that Amelia had died during childbirth without having given birth, and was then buried.

As the Cristobal Colón cemetery already has 800,000 graves and not enough room for more, after three years human remains are removed from their tombs, boxed and placed in storage
When the time came to remove Amelia to a box, la Milagrosa was discovered without decay, holding her equally undecayed baby son in her arms. Surely this must be a miracle if the story is true, but research has not come across any applications for her sainthood. The coffin was closed up again and the grave was left where it was.

Word spread and the grave has been a shrine ever since, with written testimonies left there and engraved plaques from pilgrims who have prayed to her, thanking her for helping them.

José Villalta Saavedra sculpted a cross out of Carrara marble in la Milagrosa’s honour, with Amelia holding her son beside it.

Hemingway's house
Another exciting visit was to Ernest Hemingway’s old colonial-style house, now a museum: here it was fascinating to see his hand-written records on the bathroom wall where he recorded his weight. One of his boats was still in the garden.
Hemingway enjoyed Cuban cigars and the national drink, the mojto. Enjoy.

Mojito- Wet One

1 tsp sugar
a good squeeze of lemon or lime
a handful of mint with stalks (these add flavour)   
soda water to serve
50ml white rum
a dash of Angostura bitters
lime slices to serve

From BBC Good Food