By Vincent Morin Aguado (Photos: Elio Delgado Valdes)
HAVANA TIMES — Since the middle of this month, the reception room at the central offices of the “Quinta de los Molinos” complex have been continually filled with visitors. People have been coming here to admire a competitive exhibition of fourteen superbly decorated fish tanks and other items related to that theme.
The history of “La Quinta” dates back to when it was a mill that manufactured snuff by taking advantage of a stream that flowed through the grounds.
Later, starting in 1836, it was the summer home of the Spanish field marshals in Cuba, subsequently the city’s Botanical Garden and later (during the US military occupation) it served as the temporary residence of the commander-in-chief of the Liberation Army, Maximo Gomez Baez.
Restored in 2006 by the companies affiliated to the office of the Havana City Historian’s office, this new cultural institution is now a pleasing initiative that reveals to us some of the best examples of aquariums – which is surprising in a city that, according to many, is “falling apart.”
A jury awarded prizes for the decorating of these containers of live fish, granting the first place honor to two presentations. One was titled “Amazon Voyage,” by John A. Lewis Ulloa, who took advantage of the opportunity to feature his logo and “Aquarios_Lewis.com, while the other winner was titled simply “Sensuality,” a very evocative submission by Disnay Salazar Clemente.
In a mere 27 gallons of water, Disnay demonstrates masterful resource management and balanced colors along with a remarkable capacity to thrill the viewers.
As for Lewis Ulloa, he exudes a technical grasp, a profusion of materials, great professionalism and no lack of imagination to achieve a well-earned laurel for his large 106 gallon tank.
Without asking the number of sponsors (which had to be a high figure and with the exhibit is still open), the public cast its vote for “Paludarium,” a sort of impressive water show in which one half of the display is above water as a remarkable continuation of life exists below. Congratulations to the author, Jorge Casuso Galiano.
With the least offering the most, this exhibit/competition of home aquariums shows another Havana, one in which there are many resources for patient and delicate entertainment, requiring substantial costs for their creation and maintenance.
Though unable to win any of the four awards, special mention went to the tank that featured several small Manjuaries (a species of gar fish) maintained outside of their natural habitat. This Cuban fish (classified by botanists as Atractosteus tristoechus, in the Lepisosteidae family), is the oldest inhabitant of inland Cuba, having existed for an estimated 180 million years, living even before the dinosaurs disappeared.
La Quinta de los Molinos now has ecological classrooms, lends support to people who care for pet animals in their homes, and serves food to the pigeons that beautify and enliven our parks. There is no lack of well-maintained sites here, where one can find relief from the burning Cuban summer while surrounded by medicinal, aromatic or garden plants or exotic trees, including an orchid nursery.
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