SANTIAGO DE CUBA, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- An immense stone memorial shaped like a giant rock houses the remains of Cuban revolutionary and long-time leader Fidel Castro, its size and solidity reflecting his larger-than-life persona and enduring legacy.
The memorial, at the Saint Ifigenia Cemetery in the city of Santiago de Cuba in Cuba's eastern part, can be identified by a modest plaque that says simply "Fidel" -- a suitable marker for a man who eschewed the customary trappings of fame, such as wealth, pomp and self-adulation.
Castro left strict instructions not to be honored with statues, monuments or avenues bearing his name. Still, he is revered by many who come to visit the site, located alongside the mausoleum to national hero Jose Marti. Visitors leave flowers, stand in silent tribute, or watch the daily changing of the guard.
"I would like to preserve the entire legacy he left behind," Lucia Palma, a teacher, told Xinhua.
Palma, 70, traveled 200 km from Las Tunas province to place a white rose at the monolith. She headed a group of university students who came to honor "the person who left us a different future."
Yerenys Alonso said she and her classmates, all about 20 years old, are ready "to continue fighting for this country, as Fidel and those who followed him did more than half a century ago."
Visitor Yunier Guerra said, "If I could preserve something of Fidel's legacy, what I would keep would be the principles on which all his revolutionary work is based."
Guerra's companion, Roberto Alejandro, believed "The great legacy he left us is solidarity and patriotism."
That legacy may be why many Cubans are confident about the future, despite the current economic difficulties.
"Every future has to be better," said medical student Ruth Garcia, quoting Cuban communist leader Julio Antonio Mella.
Cuba is now giving way to a new generation of leaders. In February, 86-year-old President Raul Castro, who provided a seamless transition by taking over after Fidel stepped down following 60 years in power, is also expected to step down. Still, Cubans are optimistic Fidel's legacy will be continued.
"I think the future looks very good because the continuity of our homeland is guaranteed," said Aristides Hernandez, who is in his seventies, as he sat on the seaside promenade in Santiago de Cuba.
Jorge Luis Romagera, also in his seventies, agreed, saying "We must trust in the youth and in the legacy that Fidel left us."
For now, Cubans have the teachings of Castro to fall back on, said student Yalien Estevez, adding the government will have a stronghold in the political thinking of Castro, "who taught us to think with our own heads and defend the sovereignty of the country."