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Feb. 26, 2016: Tomb of Jose Marti, Santiago de Cuba


In a week and half of traveling in Cuba, one thing became  obvious: There is one figure who stands above all others in Cuban memory and monuments, and it's Jose Marti, not Fidel Castro. His tomb, in Santiago de Cuba's Santa Ifigenia cemetery, is almost a pilgrimage site.

DSC07087Marti, poet, professor and philosopher, was the charismatic leader of Cuban movements for independence from Spain in the late 19th century, until his death in battle in 1895. 


His tomb itself demonstrates how wide his appeal: it was built in 1951 by the Batista regime, later overthrown by the Cuban revolution. Both regimes, like every Cuban regime since independence, wrapped itself in his mantle. Above, a military guard performs a changing of the guard ceremony every half hour.


Santa Ifigenia itself, started in 1868, is home to many famous Cubans, including leaders of the independence wars and of Castro's 26th of July movement and the rum-making Bacardi family. It's widely believed to be where Fidel Castro plans to be buried.


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The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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