Fwd: Travel pool report - start of Old Havana tour

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From: "Lee, Carol" >
Date: March 20, 2016 at 7:00:15 PM GMT-4
To: "Desiree N. Barnes" >, >
Subject: Travel pool report - start of Old Havana tour

Havana, Cuba
March 20, 2016

President Obama's motorcade arrived near Plaza de Arms in Old Havana at 6pm. They stepped out into a driving, steady rain that had already covered Old Havana's cobblestone streets in puddles. POTUS, first lady MIchelle Obama, Sasha and Malia began their tour at Plaza de Arms, first waking up to a statue of Carlos Manuel De Cespedes in the middle of the plaza at 6:04pm. The statue is surrounded by a wrought iron fence in the shape of a square. Inside the fence was a wreath made of red, white and blue roses.

As POTUS approached the plaza, cheers went up from a crowd nearby, which started chanting "USA! USA!"

The first family's tour guide was Eusebio Leal, the city historian.

Each member of the Obama family carried a large black umbrella except FLOTUS. Hers was blue. The family was joined by a large entourage of security and staff.

POTUS and Malia were in front, with Malia walking backwards. They stood listening to Mr. Lelal as he presumably explained what they were looking at. FLOTUS and Sasha caught up with them and stood to POTUS's right.

Pool then moved across the plaza to inside the museum of the city of Havana, Museo de la ciudad Pool was set in the leafy courtyard that features a statue of Christopher Columbus. En route to the museum the first family stopped at Palacio del Segundo Cabo, which was not in front of pool.

At 6:17pm pool could hear cheers from outside while waiting for POTUS in the museum. There was a crowd of people along the plaza and at a restaurant near the museum.

At 6:18pm POTUS entered the museum courtyard. His hosts had placed a portrait of Abraham Lincoln at the entry way. POTUS was chewing gum. FLOTUS, Sasha and Malia were there too. All of their umbrellas were closed. Their tour guides explained what they were looking at, none of which your pooler could hear.

The painting was done by James R. Lambdin in 1863.

From fellow pooler Christi Parsons: According to the plaque on the frame, this large portrait was rendered by James R. Lambdin in 1863. It has been placed this day in an easel on an outdoor plaza, sheltered from the steady rain under a colonial colonnade. An aide to Mr. Leal says the painting was a gift to the city in the 1960s, but she doesn't know who gave it to whom, exactly.

After viewing the painting, POTUS walked to a room under the colonnade containing a colonial-era carriage.

But before he continued on, CBS camera man asked POTUS to say hi to the Cuban press. POTUS turned and faced the cameras with a wide grin. "Gracias," he said.

The group then continued their tour, walking along the covered colonnade to other sites in the museum. Pool was ushered out.

Will send a couple pics separately.

Carol Lee
The Wall Street Journal

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