José G. Quintas

José G. Quintas

Photo: Taken from Saberia.

Morón’s meteorite

There are reports, reliably confirmed, of the fall of half a dozen meteorites on Cuban territory, almost all of them concentrated in the western part of the island. On June 10, 1994, a meteor fell on Palmarito farm, close to Lajas, in the province of Cienfuegos, and everything took place to the surprise and fright of some farmers who were working the land. Another sighting in February 2013, in the zone of Rodas, also in Cienfuegos, has not been certified since the experts did not find proof of the phenomenon. All these examples, according to sources, have been registered since 1938, but there are other much older reports. Journalist Guillermo Lagarde wrote about a meteorite “of extraordinary brightness and size” that was seen as it fell into the sea, facing Havana, on the night of May 10, 1886, which caused panic among Havana residents and forced Father Benito Viñes of the Belén Observatory to publish a reassuring note in the Diario de la Marina. An event of this type also seems to have been witnessed by the people of Morón almost 20 years before. Historians Federico Naranjo and Rodrigo Aguilar wrote about the surprising event in their article “Notes on...

Limonar, "the most pleasant spring residence of the Island," according to Dr. Wurdemann. Photo: Taken from

Dr. Wurdemann’s Advices

In his Notes on Cuba, Dr. John G. Wudermann advised: "To invalids suffering from affections exacerbated by the cold of winter, especially to those laboring under any of the forms of pulmonary disease, Cuba offers a clime far superior to any that the continent of Europe possesses, not excepting even that of Italy." Wudermann, a Southern physician, visited Cuba three times in the years 1841, 1842 and 1843. In the latter, he published his book Notes on Cuba in the South Carolina’s newspaper The Magnolia, and in book format in Boston, a year later. It was published in Cuba in 1989, more than a century and a half later. In his recommendations he suggested as "the most pleasant spring residence of the island, Limonar" in Matanzas, where he had tested the climate of the place in winter, spring and summer and concluded that “a visit to Cuba is desirable”. He also weighed Güines, Dr. Eduardo Finlay’s Buena Esperanza plantation -near Alquízar-, the mineral waters of San Diego, "the most celebrated in Cuba," and other places such as Cárdenas and Sagua la Grande. Nevertheless, Wurdemann emphasized Limonar, to whom he dedicated much of the two chapters of the book, and which...

Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway and cocks fighting

Cockfights are very archaic, they date back to antiquity, and in Cuba it is speculated that it was Christopher Columbus who brought the first fighting specimens. Cuban authors and foreign travelers have described in detail the breeding, training and fights of these singulars birds, and they have referred to their unquestionable roots in our country, despite the government bans, in diverse times, or the serious criticisms of the fights by eminent fellow countrymen. There’s philosopher José Antonio Saco, who in his treaty El juego y la vagancia en Cuba (Gambling and Laziness in Cuba; 1830) alludes briefly to “the pernicious galleries,” a social phenomenon that seemed to him “a perfect democracy,” since they all crowed in the ring, with no social, race, gender or age distinction. Saco, in the first edition, dealt very little on the issue, since he later recognized that the very Captain General Francisco Dionisio Vives owned a gallery in the lands of La Fuerza Castle, and his warnings about that practice, he admits, “no matter how much temperance and dexterity with which I would have handled the pen, was not able to escape the anathema that would have been fulminated against Memoria sobre la vagancia en...

Charles Gordon, Cuban hero

Charles Gordon, Cuban hero

The fall in combat 120 years ago of Lieutenant General Antonio Maceo y Grajales was celebrated last December 7. However, little is known that in the last days of the national hero, among the faithful followers who accompanied him there was an American: Colonel Charles Gordon, who had come to Cuba to fight for its freedom. Gordon arrived on Cuban soil on the fourth expedition of the Three Friends steamship, which landed on July 7, 1896 through Boca Ciega beach, in the vicinity of Guanabo and to the east of Havana; he had left from Jacksonville, Florida, and his commanding chief on land was Juan R. Cowley. He soon joined Maceo as aide-de-camp in the Pinar del Río Campaign. Although almost everything about Gordon is unknown, in terms of his background it is presumed that before joining the war he had some military training, since otherwise his rapid promotion in the Mambí ranks and his appointment to such a relevant post close to the eastern caudillo cannot be explained. When Maceo decided to go around the Mariel Trail to Majana, urged by Generalissimo Máximo Gómez that he join him since the disagreements between the General in Chief and the Government...