We have arrived safely in Havana… lovely weather… between 19 at night to around 28 or 30 in the day. As we are here in the city for 8 nights, we are taking it slow. Our accommodation is in a wonderful casa particular, Casa de Ana Morales. The room is huge, with a bedroom suite from the 50’s in perfect shape. Ana makes us breakfast every day… healthy fruit, freshly made juices and any type of egg we desire (I need to take her home with me). Her husband, Alberto, is a godsend… he speaks perfect English and is a superb source of information about Havana and Cuba as a whole.
Kitty corner from our building is the old Ritz hotel. It is now an apartment building for hundreds of people.
This is our third visit to Cuba and though we had stayed at resorts before, we always took a trip into Havana. It has changed in many ways. Yes, there is the historic district that still has its charm, including La Floridita, apparently the birthplace of the daiquiri… Hemmingway’s drink of choice. They have a bronze statue of him sitting sideways to the bar, just like he was talking to someone. Touristas love to have their picture taken with him. The drinks at La Floridita are the most expensive in Havana… tourists willingly pay for the privilege of drinking a daiquiri with the spirit of Hemmingway.
The roadways around Havana are in very good shape, better I would suggest, than in San Jose, Costa Rica. As we walk around the city, we were watching for huge people movers, they were called Camels… we saw them back in 2000. They were huge cattle-trailers pulled by semi-truck cabs; it looked like they could hold upwards of 300 to 400 people. We couldn’t find any… fortunately, they have been replaced by modern buses… rumour has it… supplied by China.
We took a hop-on hop-off bus for $5 each the other day, to see what other parts of Havana looked like. The bus headed west along the Malecon, an eight kilometre sea wall, and turned into an area of homes and apartments as well as large hotels. Everywhere the streets were lined with trees, some very old… and unlike most cities we have visited, they have street markings on each corner. These are rather unique as they little concrete pyramids, about 18 inches square and about as high, with the calles and avenidas marked accordingly.
We visited the old presidential palace, which is now the Museum of the Revolution. It is quite the space, with much text and a lot of pictures and maps showing the progress of the revolution. There are also lots of bullet holes in the walls from a failed attempt to assassinate the Batista… so you can get the drama of the days gone by. I wasn’t feeling great that day, so wandered a bit, sat down when I could, but I did learn a few things. In my mind there were only two people leading the revolution, Che and Fidel. I learned that Raul Castro as well as Camilo Cienfuegos and others were key members of the leadership at the time; Camilo, unfortunately, reportedly died in a plane only a few months later (in photos, he is the one with the cowboy hat).
We have seen lots of things since we have been here and of course, can’t mention them all. One of the challenges in Cuba, at least for the time being, is that internet is not widely available. We are posting this blog via the internet café in the Parque Central Hotel.
Here’s to a great sense of community for everyone.
Much happiness to you all!