Not the church. The church is incredible. It is both an architectural marvel and a historical emblem...a monument to the imagination and fervor of some very dedicated 18th century Jesuits. I was duly impressed with it.
The experience, however, was pathetic.
I am not religious and so I suppose using terms like "solemnity" and "due respect for holy spaces" is a tad ersatz.
However, I found myself a little sickened by the dog and pony show strewn all over the plaza set up for the express purpose of extracting money from tourists.
I realize that swindling tourists is Cuba's national sport.
But for the love of, well, God really...isn't it possible to allow sacred things their sacred-ness?
Somewhere between the tired, bored and becostumed old biddies who "just want a picture" with you and the clearly miserable little dogs in shirt collars and Ray-bans littering the front steps of the cathedral and throughout the plaza below, I kinda lost motivation to want to bother with this grand old church.
I mounted the steps anyway as graciously as I could manage (by which I mean that I didn't actually snatch the powdered wigs off the soliciting harpies and I didn't actually strangle the morons with the haberdashered doggies) only to be met by a chained off area crowded with at least 100 other gawking tourists snapping pictures of the sanctuary.
It wasn't the least bit solemn, restful or worth the effort...something I've come to associate with other such basilicas in my travels.
I also get the feeling that if the people who constructed the place could see the irreverence with which is treated today, they would have scrapped the project and done something else.
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