Cuba Journals Havana

I awoke the next morning feeling refreshed, excited to see Havana. I could hear the city living and breathing. When we left the room, there was a man next door stood smoking a cigar and drinking a cold beverage. He looked relaxed, greeted us with a smile ‘hola’ he said .He let us take look outside from his balcony. The sun was beaming down, old Havana was alive. I could smell the heat, people gathering together. Buildings rich in colour.

We walked towards Havana central, there were many people in sight, shouting, talking, trying to grab our attention. I noticed one man in a wheel chair. His legs were missing. His skin looked worn. He was holding a tray containing items for sale. One of the items was a cigarette lighter. He was one of many trying to gain attention from anyone passing by him. I wondered how long he’d been there and if he actually sold anything.

With no map , or directions , we crossed streets passing hotels, historic buildings. Artwork showing the past.

We stopped at a local bar, and ordered a beer and food. Siting outside watching people of all kinds pass by, including two homeless women. They ask us for money. Both look old, their skin tanned and aged. I wondered how many people they had asked for money that day. They were great full for the money we gave them, and continued walking the street carrying their life with them.

We continued to explore Havana, there was music playing in the streets. The musicians played with so much passion. The music had so much energy and excitement. I got the feeling of where we were now. So many streets to explore, time for a mojito. We’re in Cuba now it would be rude not too. The taste of a mojito is refreshing as the sun is beating down.

We continued walking along the malecon, entering the center of Havana.

We were stopped by a man named Alex, he was tall dark and well dressed. We introduced ourselves to him , as he told us about a good restaurant not far from where we were. He was very enthusiastic about the restaurant.

An hour later we met with Alex , he was very happy to see us. It was his job to find customers and take to the restaurant. Inexchange he would receive food for his family. We sat at the balcony of the restaurant. It was small, the smell of food filled the air. Musicians played in the corner of the room. Alex told us about his life. He had two children. One of which was in the military. We ordered some food and continued talking with him.

At one point Alex thought I wasn’t fond of him I informed him this wasn’t the case. I just observed a lot . To put him at ease I suggested that we switch sunglasses , which brought a smile to his face.

Alex persuaded us to take a tour with him. It was a lot money but we thought it could nice to get local perspective on Cuba.

Driving down the malecon in an old taxi. Alex first took us to marina Hemingway. The famous Ernest Hemingway who once lived in Cuba. He was also a very fond of sea fishing. The view was spectacular, the ocean is never ending.

The next stop is a beautiful river in some woods just outside of Havana. Alex s told us that many African rituals take place at this. This involves sacrificing chicken , which could be seen as cruel in some parts of the world. If it is part of their culture who am I to argue.

The place is beautiful , tropical a scene of green surrounded us.

Alex took us to a final stop which was the Christ statute. The statue overlooked Havana.

On the way we saw revolution square.

Cuba definitely wears it history on it’s sleeve. The political history is everywhere in museums, books and even t-shirts.

The view from the statue was breathtaking , I realized that we had seen so much on our first day. The sun was starting to set casting a shadow on Havana. A good time to take to photo perhaps. Celebrate a memory , sometimes it’s best to put away the camera.

The taxi dropped us back in Havana. We stopped at a few bars I had the taste for rum now.

The streets were alive, the local people trying to make bread.

We had dinner at a restaurant, with a balcony view. It was narrow and had limited space. The city was very much alive, people dancing , music playing.

The floridita bar is popular place for tourists to grab a mojito or a daiquiri. Only one man in the band that was playing , the rest were women. The music really created the atmosphere that night. We sat in the busy bar drank rum and listened to the music. I felt relaxed , sometimes my mind wonders. Not this time I was there enjoying myself.

An older couple joined us for a drink, they were from Canada. They had travelled around Cuba and were leaving in the couple of days.

They informed us that the reason they had to come to the bar was because their tour book said so.

Taking cues from a book if life were that simple. They are planning to go to Mexico City next.

It’s funny who you meet when you travel. Sharing experiences, you always learn something from the people you meet. I couldn’t wait to explore more.

D. Mooken