Santa Clara isn't exactly a tourist location, but it is closely linked with Che Guevara.
The room in the university that the presentation took place was room from which Che led rebel forces
to attack. On the short tour, we saw the stage on which Che was bestowed an (honorary?) degree. I
believe Santa Clara was the only Cuban university to give him a degree during his lifetime.
However, the two most important signs of Che's presence in Santa Clara are the Che
monument/museum, and the train. We went to both.
The Playa Giron museum prepared me for a museum that described all of the wonderful things Che
Guevara had done in pointed language. I was not prepared for the Che museum. Very literally not
prepared, as I didn't know enough of this life story, and the museum didn't try to inform me.
There were a few pictures, with captions all in Spanish. But the bulk of the museum was just a
collection of objects that Che Guevara had held at one point in his life. Everything from “here's his
diploma from medical school” to “here's a fountain pen he wrote with once.”
I think it assumed a very high kn owl-edge of the life of Che. It began by talking about Ernesto
Guevara, which I'd only recently learned was the first name of Che Guevara. Then again, I felt like the
museum was around for national pride reasons, than for tourism.
From there we went to the memorial. We weren't supposed to talk in there, but there was a group
behind us that whispered the entire time. It was a nice tribute, with the pictures and field names of the
people who had fought at Santa Clara with Che. Obviously Che was the main attraction, but he just got
a slightly raised pillar in the middle of the room and not a picture the same size as everyone else, so it
Then we got back on the bus and drove to the train. We looked around for a little bit, learned about the
Battle of Santa Clara, and took pictures. They'd known that a train carrying soldiers was going to be
coming through, so they drove a tractor onto the tracks, forcing the train to stop, then blew up the
bridge behind it. The train had nowhere to go, and Che Guevra and his men were willing to fight to the
death. It was a victory, and an inspiring one at that. It was with the Battle of Santa Clara that the
Revolution first truly began to succeed.
At dinner, I asked Leonard if he could witness any historical event, which one he'd want to see. He had
two answers. For European history, he would want to see the start of World War 2, but in Cuban history,
the the battle of Santa Clara.