Flying into Havana With More Than Sun Screen

I flew on a direct flight from London Gatwick to Havana. By the end of the nine hour journey the occupants had managed to share their particular version of a cold that had been going round Britain. It has to be stressed that the mechanism was not through any physical contact just the diligent air circulation system that is intended to scrub the air clean for re-use during the flight. On arrival, the Jumbo jet was no longer just a tourist jet bringing much needed cash to Cuba but it might be also classified as a mild biological hazard. We emerged coughing into the airport. Our germs were on a mission to get to meet as many Cubans as possible and add another challenge to a Cuban winter.

During a Cuban winter, temperatures can sink to a low of eighteen prompting the select band of newly wealthy Cubans to dress up like New Yorkers in a blizzard. British tourists will walk around experiencing the mild weather similar to a pleasant English summer’s day but it is all relative and what you are used to. Animal lovers might be worried about how the Cuban pets can cope with this change to cold weather after the heat. Last year, a trend emerged amongst some Cubans that might be based on their legendary improvisational skills, coupled with a dubious enjoyment of dressing up their small pets. This resulted in some larger dogs of Havana appearing in T. shirts as protection from the cold weather. These stylish and now snug hounds can easily be seen if an internet picture search is undertaken.
 On the Malecon, Havana’s famous sea wall where the crashing waves featured so evocatively in Wim Wender’s film of the Buena Vista Social Club, there is a definite wind chill factor from the sea spray that deters all but the most hardened internet addicts.

The Malecon as well as being a place to see and be seen during better weather now draws those hoping for internet access via Wifi. They can be seen crouching by walls to protect themselves from the wind and across the road from the sea wall so that they do not get soaked by an unpredicted splash. There is a compromise to be made between getting a good signal and suffering a chill but at $1.50 for an hour’s internet access only the relatively wealthy are in any such danger.
 Mike Blamires

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