The last time I wrote about cruising we were enduring, OOPS, I mean enjoying the wind and waves from Hurricane Michael. We probably were somewhere below Cuba (in red). Sometime late Monday night we started sailing around the western end of Cuba, then east towards Havana, yes-yes-yes!
Welcome to Havana Harbor! Look at this map carefully. Feel free to come back to it. I’ll use it to give you some bearings for what you’re seeing.Do you see Central Havana? I think that’s where my pictures start as you head towards shore. Follow the coastline towards the 2 points of land. That’s your next landmark. Between those 2 points there’s a channel that leads to Old Havana. There where you’ll see more pictures. The last stop are those 3 rectangles to the right of old Havana. They look like an E sticking out in the water, and that’s where our ship docked. Now, climb aboard! Let’s cruise into Havana YES-YES-YES!!
This is my first view of the city. How can I tell? The city looks modern with tall blockish buildings. One of the things I remember was the sea wall. Water flies up and splashes over it. My sister-in-law said that movie makers use this backdrop for scenes set in Havana. One of the most famous…007...James Bond.
We’re getting close to the channel that leads to Old Havana. How can I tell?
Do you see the 2 points of land? That's the channel that leads to the heart of Havana.
This is an old Spanish fortress that’s on the eastern side of the Havana Bay. It’s in this picture and the next two. Here's its story: The Spanish arrived here in 1514. They named their settlement after an Indian chief, San Cristóbal de Habana. By 1538 they’d built a fortress, the Castillo de la Fuerza.
The Castillo wasn’t strong enough. In 1555 French pirate Jacques de Sores attacked and plundered Havana so the Spanish built a bigger, better fort. It took 40 years to finish. It looks pretty good to me.
But that fort still wasn’t strong enough. English ships raided Havana in 1622, 1623, and 1638. Here’s the link for my information: http://www.historyofcuba.com/history/funfacts/havana.ht
This is the western side of the harbor. It’s been settled since 1514, During its early years, it had to be moved repeatedly because of mosquitoes, and the diseases they carry. In 1519 the settlers found this spot away from those darn mosquitoes. They stayed!
This is the oldest part of Havana. I love the beautiful old buildings. Can you see the cruise ship in this picture? This is where our ship docked, by the E in the map of the channel.
Much better! BTW, this wasn’t our cruise ship. There was another one when we arrived, and a different one when we left. I’m glad people like to visit Havana!
I took this picture from the back of the boat looking across the harbor. It looks like wilderness, but it’s a special piece of land. Can you tell what’s in the middle of the picture? It reaches towards the sky. Try the next photo. Now it’s on the left side of the picture.
Can you tell who it is? Our cruise director said it’s Fun Jesus. I called him Party Jesus. Why? One hand looks like it’s holding a Cuban cigar. The other is holding a mojito, a famous Cuban drink. That’s not how Jilma Madera planned it. Jilma is the Cuban woman who designed it, and it’s the largest statue created by a woman in the world. Jilma has girl power! I’m glad she designed her Cuban Jesus!
PS- click on Jilma's name to read more about her.
I looked toward another part of the harbor to take these 2 pictures. It shows where the local boats go to work. I’m guessing they’re fishing boats, but I didn’t get close enough to see.
PS- I actually took all these pictures as I was leaving Havana. When we arrived, I couldn’t take any pictures because a bunch of ladies blocked my shot. On the way out, I was determined to get these pictures so when people, ladies, started coming to the back of the boat, I moved my chair forward so no one blocked my shot. Sometimes you have to be assertive, and polite, to get what you want and need. I’m glad I got the shot!
A Night on the Town
We finally got into Havana around 5, and we got off the boat by 5:30. It was so much easier in Havana than in Cienfuegos. There was a line, but it moved FAST! Customs was quick! Havana has newer equipment. The old stuff goes to places like Cienfuegos.
We had money leftover from Cienfuegos. Time to see Havana!
We hit the streets, and this is what we saw! The building above is the Terminal Sierra Maestra San Francisco, the boat terminal where people come and go from the ship. Look at the picture to the left. This is the terminal again, and the street in front of it. It was busy with cars like this one.
The Terminal San Francisco is named after this church. Its full name is the Basilica Menor de San Francisco de Asis. It’s across the street from the terminal.The bell tower is about 138 feet tall and contains the remains of important Havana citizens. The church also gave its name to the square, the Plaza de San Francisco.
That’s where we went when we left the boat. We looked around the plaza then took a walk down a street looking for a few souvenirs.
No souvenirs yet, but this is the inside of a hotel. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the outside. We went in because my husband and his brother were determined to buy Cuban cigars. While they talked prices, I took pictures. This place is beautiful! Unusually so. I saw so much poverty in Cuba, but not here. Someone has enough money to renovate, redecorate, and keep this place up. BTW…we didn’t buy cigars…they were too expensive…I’m sure some of the cost keeps this place looking great.
We kept exploring the streets of Havana, but I didn’t find any treasures. Either the shops were closed, or nothing called me. Nothing!
My sister-in-law’s bucket list wish for this trip was to visit the places in Havana where Ernest Hemingway hung out. This is one of them. The man in the stature is Ernest. The pictures on the wall are of him too.
Ernest is a famous writer. His books are for adults. He wrote The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Sun Also Rises, and A Farewell to Arms.
This is one of Ernest’s hang-outs, Floridita. Can you guess what it’s named after…the state of Florida. Cuba reminds me of Florida. Ernest had a house in Florida and one near Havana. When he was in Havana, this is where he came for a good dinner and a daiquiri. That’s a slushy adult drink. The outside doesn’t look like much, but the inside has the most gorgeous woodwork, and it was packed with tourists! While we were there, they had a trio of singers. They were fantastic! When we got to Floridita, it was still light, but it was getting dark when we left. We hurried back to the boat, in time for dinner and a good night’s sleep.
Back to Square 1
We got into Havana a day late, but we were lucky. We could reschedule our tour. We met our guide at the Plaza de San Francisco, that’s where we went for our first night in Havana. The Plaza is the oldest square in the city. The basilica was started in 1580 and finished in 1591. It’s been in use ever since, for over 400 years.
The next building is on the square, just down from the church. Sorry, I can’t find its name. I’m guessing it’s one of the museums that are spread across the city.
Look down, and I'll introduce you to José María López Lledín. He was also known as El Caballero de París. In English he was called the gentleman of Paris. He looks pretty dapper to me. Would you believe he actually was a homeless man who had saw things that weren’t there? Poor man! It’s said his mind snapped when he was unfairly imprisoned. Jose doesn’t sound like statue material, but legend says that he was kind and generous, perfect for a statue.
Look up to see an aqueduct from Cuba’s colonial days. When Spain colonized Havana, they needed water. They brought it to the colonists, through stone channels built under the city. The aqueducts aren’t used anymore, but it’s nice to find history at your feet.
Look what else I found on my walk! Nestles! Something from home in Old Havana. When I explore another country, I look for what’s new and interesting, but I also look for pieces of home. Yum!
OOPS! I didn’t get get much of a shot of the outside of this building. It’s still in the old part of Havana, close to the next square.
Something else caught my eye. Do you know what it is?
(Hint-- it's not Darth Vader!)
This building once belonged to the monks who lived and worked here. They dressed in long robes with hoods. The statue of a monk stands guard outside
Inside is a beautiful painting of another monk, and now this building is a hotel that remembers its history. I'm glad!
To Square Two, Plaza Vieja
This is the Plaza Vieja. It means Old Square in Spanish, but when it was built in 1559 it was called the Plaza Nueva, the New Square. Really!
Do you remember the Plaza de San Francisco? It was the original square back when Spanish galleons first sailed into Havana. The Franciscan monks from the Basilica wanted a new square because they had trouble celebrating Mass. They said the shopkeepers made so much noise they needed to move. I didn’t know there was noise pollution in the sixteenth century. I thought it was a modern problem.
Plaza Vieja is pretty colorful. That’s something new. In the 1980’s Old Havana became a UNESCO cultural heritage site. People found money to renovate and repaint the old buildings. Our guide said the building in the next picture is in the old Spanish style. I love it, but I wonder how they made arches out of stone.
This is the last picture from the plaza. I couldn’t find the name of the sculptor, but our guide talked about the French influence that dates back to Napoleon. He was short but powerful, like a bantam rooster. Did you know there's a rooster on the French soccer uniform?
The 2nd picture is the street that leads to the next square. It’s all cobblestones and buildings. The only trees are in pots.
Down the street is the Hogar Materno Infantil Doña Leonor Pérez Cabrera.
Translation: It’s the hospital for women who are pregnant and expecting babies. It’s named after Dona Leonor Perez Cabrera. That’s Jose Marti’s mother. Remember him, from the park in Cienfuegos?
Farther down is the CIA. Armera De Cuba. S.A. Efectos De Caceria Y Explosivos.
I thought it was a fireworks place. Nope! It started as a private gun shop, but on April 9, 1958 some of Fidel Castro’s revolutionaries broke in to get guns. Four guys died that night. Years later it became a museum for guns and knives that date back to the 1700’s.
This is another Hemingway favorite. It’s the Hotel Ambos Mundos, which means both worlds.
Hemingway lived here for 7 years during the 1930’s. It was cheap, $1.50 a day!. This picture and the one below are from the ground floor. It looks pretty nice!
The last picture is the hotel elevator. When Ernest stayed in Room 511 on the top floor, he would have used this elevator. Room 511 is no longer available. It’s a mini-museum, but you can book other rooms in the Ambos Mundos.
Meet the working dogs of Havana! They look much better than the dogs of Cienfuegos.
They wear name tags. That means they get fed every day. Then they take a nap on the warm pavement. They may have skin problems like fleas and the mange, but having food, a place to sleep, are 2 very good things for my canine friends.
Welcome to the Oficina Del Historiador De La Ciudad. I think that translates to the Office of History of Cuba. It sounds like another museum. We didn’t go inside. We kept on walking.
Three Squared, The Plaza De Armas This is the Plaza De Armas. Today it’s a park where you can relax in the shade of palm trees and tropical plants. The edges are lined with beautiful old buildings.
Like the other Plazas, it once had another name, the Plaza de la Iglesia. Iglesia was a small neighborhood church. In the 1600’s the Spanish government built the governor's palace and an armory in this square. The name was changed to the Plaza De Armas, which means ‘Weapons’ Square or Parade Ground.’ The rich people of Havana came here to enjoy carriage rides and military parades. It was the place to be and to be seen!
The building in the background is the Palace of the General Captains or the Spanish governor. The Spanish started building in 1776, the same year America declared its independence from England. The west side of the plaza has a wooden floor because a governor’s wife got tired of carriage wheels waking her up. She got her husband to get rid of the stone and replace it with wood. From 1791-1898, it was the home for the Spanish governor of Cuba. It later became the presidential palace. Today it’s Havana's Museum of history.
BTW- The Iglesia church was destroyed in 1741 when the HMS Invincible blew up. Its mast flew into the church and destroyed it.
This statue is at the center of the plaza, at the center of the park. It's another Cuban hero, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes. The park is named Parque Céspedes. Carlos freed his slaves, started the Cuban wars for Independence, and is considered the Father of the Cuban Homeland.
The statue’s base is inscribed with Carlos’ name and his service to Cuba. It’s protected by a gate and decorated with flowers. The ribbon’s inscribed with a message, but I can’t read Spanish, and I couldn’t find anything online. Sorry!
This is El Templete. It was built in 1827 to honor Queen Josefa Amalia. It commemorates the 1st mass and the first town council that was held at the foot of a ceiba tree that once grew there. The square eventually grew into the Plaza de Armas.
BTW—Queen Josefa’s husband was King Fernanando VII. In 1834 his statue was moved to make room for Carlos Manuel de Céspedes.
The Plaza De Armas is full of history, but it’s also a park where you can relax under a shade tree and enjoy the view.
If you want to stay here, try the Hotel Santa Isabel. It’s a 5 star hotel, and, it used to be a palace, the Palacio de los Condes de Santovenia. When I go back, I want to stay at the palace!
Just down the street is the most beautiful old house, the Casa del Conde Jaruco. It was finished in 1737 for the Countess de Merlin who was a countess and a Cuban novelists. It’s famous for its meiopuntos, those gorgeous half-moon stained glass windows. It doesn’t house people anymore. It houses art exhibits.
These painting are not in the Casa del Conde Jaruco. They’re photographs outside another building, the Cuban Museum of Natural History.
All these plants and animals are native to Cuba. I didn’t see them inside the museum, but I’m glad I caught them on the outside.
I took this picture but couldn't confirm its identity. I googled but couldn’t find the statue. I can’t read the plaque either, but I’m pretty sure it’s Miguel de Cervantes. Our guide pointed him out, and I remember taking his picture. Here’s his story…
Miguel was born in 1547 in Madrid, Spain. He became a poet and a soldier who published his first book in 1569 at age 22, but he didn’t become famous until 1605. That’s when he wrote Part 1 of Don Quixote. Miguel was 58. He finished the 2nd part in 1615, at age 68. Thanks, Miguel, for the encouragement. I still have time to write and publish a story.
Don Quixote fits Miguel, the poet-soldier. Don is an old man who’s so fascinated with the knights of old that he sets out in search of adventure. Miguel fought against the Turks and lost his left hand. Then he spent 5 years in a Turkish prison. Miguel went on to write the world’s first best seller. He died in poverty but never gave up.
In Miguel’s most famous scene Don thinks he’s fighting a giant. It’s really a windmill, but he keeps fighting, determined to fight the impossible battle. Miguel wrote this story in 1615. It’s now a classic that’s been translated into 60 languages. It’s also been renamed The Man of La Mancha and turned into a Broadway play, and into a movie. Its best song, To Dream the Impossible Dream. Miguel has 3 statues in Havana, Cuba. I wish he knew how powerful his words are, 400 years later. Talk about an impossible dream!
This mural is incredible. It covers over 300 square meters on Mercaders Street (360 square yards). It’s made of 52 panels that depict 67 famous figures from Cuban history.
Andres Carrillo is the artist. He researched all 67 people to find out what they looked like, how they dressed. It’s amazing!
Andres also used a new material to paint his mural. He picked a natural rock from Cuba and soaked it in acrylic resin. It came out as small tiles. He picked 4 colors (brown, coral rose, black, and beige) and mixed them together to create his 13 shades. It is incredible to look at this huge mural and to know how much work is in it. It is so life-like that I felt like I could step out on a balcony or open a window. They look like they’re physically there. Andres is incredibly talented!
I had to work to report on this! I blew up the picture and copied its name: Correspondencia Interior Y Peninsular.
That meant nothing to me so I went to Google and pasted in that name. I hit pay-dirt! That is the oldest mailbox in Cuba. It’s part of the original stonework for the old mansion of the Marqueses deArcos (some rich guy). It’s in the plaza of the Cathedral of Havana. I didn’t think we’d made it to the next plaza, but I guess we did.
The stone mailbox is the Greek mask of tragedy. Its mouth is where you put your letter. The inscription is a nod to the colonial era when mailbox was made. Who knew mail could be so tragic!
I googled, but couldn’t find anything about this, so I enlarged the sign, and here’s what it says, in English…Invitation to the people of Havana and foreign visitors to discover the new shop and manufacture of miniature tin soldiers. Placed at Number 164 Muralla Street, Havana.
I don’t remember anything about tin soldiers because I would have bought a couple. (I love to shop!) I thought it was something about soldiers mustering for duty back in the 1700 or 1800’s.
I googled once more and discovered it really is a shop! A tiny one on a side street. Each soldier is 3 inches tall, dressed in period costumes, and made of solid lead. The price, as little as 8 CUC a soldier. If you decide to visit, bring the address with you, 163 not 164 Muralla. Even the locals don’t know about this place. You can watch from the window as each soldier is painted, under a magnifying glass. When I go back to Havana, and I will, I’m visiting Muralla Street!
The link for this information: http://www.visitcuba.com/2014/12/big-battles-tiny-soldiers/
I got this email from my friend Mark when I wrote last year's post about Veterans Day. I thought it’d make the perfect post for this year. Thanks, Mark! This post will write itself!
"Thank you Rinda, it was a perfect reading for me none of us do this looking for appreciation. You met me after I had already served 3 years in the Marines, but I remember at Lima Senior looking around after Graduation wondering what do I do now? The Marines found me and kept hounding me for months I’m Thankful I listened, and earned the rights to be called a Marine. The most important life skill I learned was self-esteem trust me before than I lacked that, but becoming a Marine I learned these 14 Marine Corps Leadership Traits that I used throughout my lifetime:"
Definition: Justice is defined as the practice of being fair and consistent. A just person gives consideration to each side of a situation and bases rewards or punishments on merit.
Suggestions for Improvement: Be honest with yourself about why you make a particular decision. Avoid favoritism. Try to be fair at all times and treat all things and people in an equal manner.
FYI- Lady Justice is an ancient symbol that goes back to Greek and Roman mythology. She’s pictured blindfolded to show she’s fair and impartial. She holds a scale to show that she balances the strengths and weaknesses of a case. Finally she carries a sword to show her authority, and to show that justice should be swift and final.
Definition: Judgment is your ability to think about things clearly, calmly, and in an orderly fashion so that you can make good decisions.
Suggestions for Improvement: You can improve your judgment if you avoid making rash decisions. Approach problems with a common-sense attitude.
FYI- You don’t have to be a judge to make good decisions. If you don’t want to make rash decisions, slow down! Breathe. Sleep on it. Talk to friends and family. Do any or all of these, and you’ll make better decisions. Don’t worry. If you do your best, that’s enough. There is no more, plus, you can learn from your mistakes.
Definition: Dependability means that you can be relied upon to perform your duties properly. It means that you can be trusted to complete a job. It is the willing and voluntary support of the policies and orders of the chain of command. Dependability also means consistently putting forth your best effort in an attempt to achieve the highest standards of performance.
Suggestions for Improvement: You can increase your dependability by forming the habit of being where you're supposed to be on time, by not making excuses and by carrying out every task to the best of your ability regardless of whether you like it or agree with it.
FYI- If you’re dependable, you're like solid gold. You will never be the weakest link.
Definition: Initiative is taking action even though you haven't been given orders. It means meeting new and unexpected situations with prompt action. It includes using resourcefulness to get something done without the normal material or methods being available to you.
Suggestions for Improvement: To improve your initiative, work on staying mentally and physically alert. Be aware of things that need to be done and then to do them without having to be told.
FYI- When you take the initiative, you could be raising your hand or sharing an idea. You’re being brave because you’re daring to be wrong. Think about this...you’ll never be right unless you dare to be wrong.
Definition: Decisiveness means that you are able to make good decisions without delay. Get all the facts and weight them against each other. By acting calmly and quickly, you should arrive at a sound decision. You announce your decisions in a clear, firm, professional manner.
Suggestions for Improvement: Practice being positive in your actions instead of acting half-heartedly or changing your mind on an issue.
FYI- Sometimes it’s hard to make a decision. When that happens, I write down the pluses and minuses. Then I decide, and I give it time. If it’s a bad decision, no problem! I look at the new facts and make a better one. The worst decision...is no decision. Then life will choose for you. Decide! Be brave!
Definition: Tact means that you can deal with people in a manner that will maintain good relations and avoid problems. It means that you are polite, calm, and firm.
Suggestions for Improvement: Begin to develop your tact by trying to be courteous and cheerful at all times. Treat others as you would like to be treated.
FYI- It’s hard to say that just right thing, especially if you’re angry. Don’t be afraid to take your time to breathe, to think, to plan. Sometimes in tricky situations I even write down what I want to say. It’s worth taking the time to keep a friend.
Definition: Integrity means that you are honest and truthful in what you say or do. You put honesty, sense of duty, and sound moral principles above all else.
Suggestions for Improvement: Be absolutely honest and truthful at all times. Stand up for what you believe to be right.
FYI- This Venn Diagram explains it perfectly. If your beliefs, words, and actions match, you have integrity. It’s something to hang onto. If I had to lose everything, but could keep only 1 thing, I’d keep my integrity. I hope you do too.
Definition: Enthusiasm is defined as a sincere interest and exuberance in the performance of your duties. If you are enthusiastic, you are optimistic, cheerful, and willing to accept the challenges.
Suggestions for Improvement: Understanding and belief in your mission will add to your enthusiasm for your job. Try to understand why even uninteresting jobs must be done.
FYI- Be a cheerleader! Find a cheerleader! I did this for my 2nd graders…I cheered them on, but you can be your own cheerleader. Say words that build you up. Do your best because there is no more. Go, go, go!
Definition: Bearing is the way you conduct and carry yourself. Your manner should reflect alertness, competence, confidence, and control.
Suggestions for Improvement: To develop bearing, you should hold yourself to the highest standards of personal conduct. Never be content with meeting only the minimum requirements.
FYI- It’s not about the bear, but look at both pictures. Each girl is telling you something with her body. Here's a tip, if you get up on the wrong side of the bed, put on your favorite outfit. Sometimes when you look good, you'll start to feel good. I always do this on bad days.
Definition: Unselfishness means that you avoid making yourself comfortable at the expense of others. Be considerate of others. Give credit to those who deserve it.
Suggestions for Improvement: Avoid using your position or rank for personal gain, safety, or pleasure at the expensive of others. Be considerate of others.
FYI- This is what you learn in preschool and Kindergarten, how to share, whether it’s snack, a toy, or a game. It’s one of the most important things in life to learn.
Definition: Courage is what allows you to remain calm while recognizing fear. Moral courage means having the inner strength to stand up for what is right and to accept blame when something is your fault. Physical courage means that you can continue to function effectively when there is physical danger present.
Suggestions for Improvement: You can begin to control fear by practicing self-discipline and calmness. If you fear doing certain things required in your daily life, force yourself to do them until you can control your reaction.
FYI- Being brave is hardest when you’re afraid. The first step to more courage, slow down your breathing. Inhale and think ‘I breathe in courage.’ Exhale and think, ‘I exhale fear.’ It helps! Really! Last week I was struggling with self-doubt so I breathed in faith and exhaled hope. It helped me, and it can help you too. Really!
Definition: Knowledge is the understanding of a science or art. Knowledge means that you have acquired information and that you understand people. Your knowledge should be broad, and in addition to knowing your job, you should know your unit's policies and keep up with current events.
Suggestions for Improvement: Increase your knowledge by remaining alert. Listen, observe, and find out about things you don't understand. Study field manuals and other military literature.
FYI- Knowledge is power. The more you listen, observe, read, and discover the world around you, the better you’ll do now, and in the future.
Definition: Loyalty means that you are devoted to your country, the Corps, and to your seniors, peers, and subordinates. The motto of our Corps is Semper Fidelis!, (Always Faithful). You owe unwavering loyalty up and down the chain of command, to seniors, subordinates, and peers.
Suggestions for Improvement: To improve your loyalty you should show your loyalty by never discussing the problems of the Marine Corps or your unit with outsiders. Never talk about seniors unfavorably in front of your subordinates. Once a decision is made and the order is given to execute it, carry out that order willingly as if it were your own.
FYI- This image reminds me of the 3 Musketeers, not the candy bar, but the 3 French soldiers from a classic movie/novel. Their motto…all for one, and one for all. I’m loyal to my friends and family. Who are you loyal to?
Definition: Endurance is the mental and physical stamina that is measured by your ability to withstand pain, fatigue, stress, and hardship. For example, enduring pain during a conditioning march in order to improve stamina is crucial in the development of leadership.
Suggestions for Improvement: Develop your endurance by engaging in physical training that will strengthen your body. Finish every task to the best of your ability by forcing yourself to continue when you are physically tired and your mind is sluggish.
FYI- This is a real military training exercise, the Teamwork Log Training Exercise. It looks hard, but if you have endurance, you can lift that log off the ground and move it into position. How do you develop endurance? By training! Each time try to last a minute/half minute longer, and you’ll build endurance.
When Marines recruit, they say “They’re looking for a few good men.” They call themselves, “The few. The proud. The Marines.” When I look at Marine values, I can see why they’re so respected. They build good character.
I also think it’s interesting that those are the same values I tried to instill in my 2nd graders, and that my school guidance counselors worked on with them. Most of my FYI comments came from the things those counselors taught me and my students. I’m not a Marine, but I’m a proud retired elementary teacher of 33 years.
I asked my husband for his pictures of Cienfuegos, and he sent me this. It’s my last classroom. I retired from 2nd grade in June of 2015. The picture below reminds me of how much I loved teaching. It also shows what I valued as a teacher. It's displayed around the room.
I cut that picture into 4 pieces. They’re below, the 4 corners of my classroom. Let’s take a trip down Memory Lane.
This is the back of my classroom where you’d find my word wall chart and the kids’ lockers. Do you see the ice cream on them? They’re charts for mastery of addition/subtraction facts. On the last day of school everyone got ice cream, but the kids who passed the most time tests got to put their ice cream sundae together first. YUM!
This was the left side of my classroom. I kept half my curtains closed, and I used the curtains as a bulletin board. That’s where I put the “I can” learning statements.
My favorite place in the room was my library shelf. This was the last week of school, I still had books out, and yes, I was still teaching.
This is the front of my room. It’s where I taught, where the magic happened… learning! I taught with ‘stuff’ and after 33 years I had a lot of it.
That front wall was one BIG bulletin board. If it was important, it was on that wall. On the top, my number line, counting up to 110. Kids have trouble writing numbers after 109. They want to write 1010, 1011, year after year. Really!
Below them are my Disney character/ punctuation marks. They were a gift from another teacher when we traded jobs. She went to title reading. I went to 2nd grade. They helped my kids remember what to use for 30 years. When we did daily oral language, those classic characters still helped my kids!
Start on the left wall and follow me across the room. First you’ll find my calendar. No primary classroom is without one. It matches to science and math skill standards, the things that teachers can’t teach without. I’m not sure what posters are beside it, but I think they’re math. The shelf below it was full of math and science supplies. Things like calculators and clocks, magnifying glasses and magnets, It’s amazing what I collected over 33 years.
The spelling chart came next and the smartboard. I didn’t think I was smart enough for one, but with help from younger teachers I discovered how smart it was for my students. The two tables below it were full of basic supplies I needed every day. Things like Kleenexes and pencils, student names and a tub of worksheets.
Keep going right and you’ll find a behavior chart and a workshop to keep my kids busy and learning when they had spare time And yes, I used my cupboards too! They held cards that helped kids with phonics, like OW for blow or OW for cow. I paired them up with whatever skills I was teaching in spelling. There’s also another table. My favorite things that last year…a German calendar and my last ants. Back in the day I raised ants, butterflies, hermit crabs, and frogs. I loved my critters!
Last, look at the desks. I only did this for my last year. Yes, I tried something new that year! Before putting a unit of books away, I sorted them into tubs of difficult/medium/easy. My kids had baggies with dots on them. The dots told them which tub held the Just Right Books for them. If they didn’t do workshop, they could read a book that fit their reading level. I’m glad I tried this, even if it was only for 1 year.
Wow! I taught with a lot of stuff, 6 paragraphs worth! This is the last wall. Promise! BTW- that’s what I looked like that last year.
My last 3 bulletin boards…above the computers were my classroom rules, consequences, and rewards. Next came my author bulletin board, and my last author, George Ella Lyon, is a relative. I met her when she came for a school visit in the 90’s and discovered we have ancestors who were brothers. I still I can’t believe I’m related to a real, live, published author! The last bulletin board, above the sink, was the job’s bulletin board. My kids loved having jobs!
Interesting, as I write this, I miss teaching, my kids, and my colleagues. But would I go back to daily duty? Never! I love subbing once a week, every other week. I get my kid fix, and I stay connected to my market, teachers and kids. I love having 6 days a week to write. Even though I’m retired, I usually don’t get to write all 6 days. I get pulled away for appointments or whatever comes up. Subbing that one day gives me the best of both worlds, for now.
I'm starting with a map to show you where the ship was supposed to go on Sunday after we left Cienfuegos, and where the ship actually went. We were supposed to spend a day sailing west around Cuba, and then head east towards Havana.
That didn't happen! Hurricane Michael had already popped up on the western end of Cuba. When there’s a hurricane, a captain takes his ship out to sea away from the storm. So instead of going west Sunday night, our captain took us south toward the Cayman Islands. Not all the way there, but far enough to avoid high seas.
Here’s what the weather map looked like Monday night. I found this after I got home to Ohio. Michael was a Category 1 storm with winds of 74-95 mph (miles per hour). That’s faster than your parents drive down interstate.
Michael was sitting where we were supposed to go, but I’m glad we didn’t go. His Category 1 waves were big enough for me. By Wednesday when Michael moved north to the Gulf Coast of Florida, he was a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 111-129 mph. That's hide in the basement fast! Y-I-K-E-S!!!
Sometime Tuesday the captain started sailing west on our original course to Havana. We were supposed to get there Tuesday morning, but we made it off the ship by 5PM Tuesday night. That gave us a little time to explore that night, then on Wednesday we had till 5PM. Not as much time in Havana as scheduled, but enough to time to meet and love Havana. Enough time to want to return again.
I took these pictures on Monday from the deck on the 6th floor. The ship was rocking and rolling, literally! The waves don’t look too bad, but they’re higher than they look…15-19 feet tall. The wind was blowing, about 20-30 knots. Not sure what those numbers mean? Wait for it…I’ll explain the numbers like I did back in the day when I was a 2nd grade teacher.
Why pinball? I told you the ship was rocking and rolling, but no one could walk, unless wobbling counts. I felt like I was a pinball bouncing back and forth across the passage. It was the oddest feeling. I didn’t fall over, but I didn’t wind up walking where I’d planned. The rocking sent us from one side of the hallway to the other.
Do you know what’s hanging from the rail in the 2nd picture? Yes, ‘barf’ bags! I prefer sick bags! I was blessed…I enjoyed the out-of-control sensation. I’m a retired teacher, and I prefer to be in control. This is one of the few situations where I had no control, so I decided to enjoy.
Plus as a writer, I got to ‘enjoy’ storm force wind and waves. We don’t have that in Ohio. And someone from California told me it was like an earthquake, just a lot longer. An earthquake is only about 30 seconds. We don’t have those in Ohio either. I think it’s fabulous that I got to experience a stormy sea and hyper-extended earthquake, and I didn’t have to pay a dime for the extra experience.
Remember the wind blowing 20-30 knots? I didn’t know what that meant. This link help me…
That’s about 23-34.5 mph, the speed your mom or dad drives in town, or on the edges of town. Not super fast.
If you’re wondering why an elephant’s here, it’s because my second graders had trouble figure out what measurements really mean. This is an African elephant. If you measure one from its shoulder to its toe, it’s about 8 to 13 feet tall.
Look at the side chart, it’s in meters. If a wave is 15- 20 feet tall, it’s 4.5-6 meters tall. If you don’t want to check my math, here’s a link to help you… https://www.calculateme.com/length/feet/to-meters/
Here’s another way to think of 15 feet. Take a look at your mom. I’m a mom, and I’m 5’5”. If I wanted to stand as tall as that wave, it would take 3 of me/your mom. 4 to be 20 feet tall.
A final way to look a 15 feet is to look at a classroom. In my last room, each block was 1 square foot. Walk 15 blocks forward and look back. That’s what 15 feet looks like. In my classroom, it was half my room. That’s big!
My husband found this shot on his phone. He wanted to get rid of it, and I can’t believe how happy I am to see these. It’s like pulling up great memories. I spent almost 10 years in this room. Good times!
PS- I think I'll take a travel break and take a trip down Memory Lane before I head to Havana Na Na Na!
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!