Dr Triolet’s Cuban love affair!

One Frenchman’s love affair with Cuba!

Dr Ernesto Triolet

Go back in time to the late 1800’s. The science of Pharmacy is young and there are many discoveries to make and many ailments and diseases to cure! Dr Juan Fermin Figueroa Velis of Cuba, invites his newly graduated, French Pharmacist friend, Dr Ernesto Triolet Teliebre to visit. The friends decide to set up in practice together in Matanzas and Ernest asks to marry Juan’s sister Maria Justa! The two men dedicate their lives to their pharmacy which became famous and is now open to the public as a museum.


Ernesto and Juan worked together establishing the pharmacy in Matanzas which was famous throughout Cuba in its day. The “Botica la Francesa” as it was then called has today been re invented as the Pharmacy Museum, “Museo Farmacéutico” and it is well worth a visit!


The guided tour can be enjoyed in a variety of languages and the items on display are beautifully cared for and preserved in the manner of a working pharmacy and dispensary. The enthusiastic guides will explain how the medicines were made and you can see the tools and the recipe books for potions and powders administered to the people of Matanzas. Adornments such as a beautiful porcelain vase with portraits of the husband and wife are proudly displayed above the sales counter, as is a statue in marble of the Virgin of Conception protecting the establishment. MuseoFarmaceuticoMatanzasCuba4

Hundreds of labels and boxes are on show behind glass. Original tools and cabinets are still full of medicaments in use at the time of its heyday, and the ancient “on Duty” lamp outside, (which used to indicate when the pharmacy was operational,) is said to mysteriously come on from time to time as a reminder of the past!?


Ernesto kept up to date with pharmaceutical trends and did his own research. His personal library is testament to his enthusiasm and dedication to his profession. He took some of his products to the Paris World Exposition in 1900 where he won a bronze medal, sadly he never returned to his beloved Cuba and his family as he died on December 19th 1900 in France of a heart attack.

Dolores Triolet

Dolores Triolet

Sadly Ernesto’s marriage to Maria Justa was short lived as she died at a very young age, but his friend Juan’s daughter, Maria de los Dolores accepted his offer and became his second wife. Dolores was one of the first Cuban women to graduate in pharmacy in New York and after the death of her husband she continued the work of the pharmacy in Matanzas, outliving him by many years!

The couple had three children and the youngest Ernesto Triolet Figueroa ran the pharmacy until it closed in 1964 and re opened as a museum a few months later. Ernesto the younger continued to care for the museum until his death in 1975.


Why not join us in Cuba this year and explore the fascinating history of this island of immigrants and pioneers that has so many stories to tell!!?

A Cuban Snapshot 7 days tour

Mi Cubita 14 days tour

Lolo: Artists Flourish in Cuba

Food and other commodities can be hard to come by in Cuba but Art is abundant and gives us all hope!


We recently visited a well know artist’s studio in Matanzas. Cuba’s sculptor “Lolo” or Osmany Betancourt Falcón is one of Cuba’s flourishing artists.He is a local to Matanzas and his studio can be found on Calle 97 known as Narvaez facing onto the San Juan river.


He was busy at work when we arrived, up a step ladder on a huge piece supported by various pieces of wooden scaffolding and ropes. In the back ground a radio played some lively tunes and one of his colleagues with whom he shares his studio was working on some glazes. We wandered around admiring various pieces and looking at his array of tools and machinery for moving large works.


We chatted to Lolo when he took a short break to wash the rich red clay off his hands, and we asked him about his studio and his wonderful creations! Materials can be hard to come by in Cuba and so artists tend to work with what is easily available locally. Lolo likes to works in clay, and it is sourced from Pinar del Rio the neighbouring province. Then he likes to casts his pieces in Bronze and wood is another favourite material he incorporates.


For the piece he’s working on now, he plans to send it to the US to be cast in bronze.

Asking Lolo where we could see his works, he told us there was one in the Ceramic Museum in Havana. This is a small museum is on Calle los Mercaderes just off Plaza Vieja, entry is free and it’s well worth a visit!


Lolo has had some recent fame winning first  prize in Matanzas, in the 11th Summer Exhibition 2011 with a piece entitled “Sargento” an installation in enamelled ceramic, metal and wood.

He has won other prizes in the Bianual Amelia Peláez Ceramic Competition and in the Roberto Diago Salón. He has also had pieces of work on show in Canada, Holland and Germany.


The government actively supports “the Arts” and over the last 53 years of revolution, Cubans artist have enjoyed support and opportunities that others have been denied. Art of all types and forms is everywhere and accessible, mainly free of charge or very cheap for Cubans. Tourists pay a lot more. Artists have an almost free expression in music, dance, sculpture, and painting, the resulting works interpreted by the viewer.


Art schools are over subscribed and its a career  that the younger generation are drawn to. The arts attract tourists and sales to tourists bring extra cash bonuses.  If you are talented and produce popular works you might get a chance to travel with a show or get a contract to perform abroad. The young have a thirst to see the world beyond Cubas shores!

Why not book a holiday in Cuba this year?

The Castro days are numbered and change will steamroll this fragile and unique island.

Cuban Snapshot 7 days  https://encompasstours.com/tours/a-cuban-snapshot-7-days/

Mi Cubita 14 days     https://encompasstours.com/tours/mi-cubita-cuba14-days/