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Showing posts from November, 2015

Our Woman in Havana

I was undecided about what to do with my final day in Havana. Obviously there would be walking, but i wanted some sort of loose destination. Musing over my morning cigar, i discovered that every Sunday afternoon there is an area with live rumba music. Good enough. Little did i then know that the destination would be even better than live music. I set off through Havana Vieja, past Parque Central, down Calle San Rafael for many blocks, until tourists thinned out and were replaced with local residents doing their daily activities. I tried not to be too obvious as i snapped photos.

I found my way to my destination - Callejon de Hamel - wondering where the live music would be and whether i would even be able to find it. It wan't hard. The short street, closed to cars, is lined, crammed, and towered by art. Graffiti, sculpture. Benches made from painted, repurposed bathtubs, courtyards filled with scrap metal totems, the sides of buildings covered with murals...even some art studios, …

Casablanca, Havana

Saturday morning in Havana started a bit late, due to the late night spent smoking in the park the night before. With Stripes and Noodles en route back to Canada, i was on my own. After my late breakfast i walked down to the water and caught a ferry across the water to Casablanca. By "ferry" i mean a simple, standing room only open sided boat that takes people across for a fee (half a peso). The ride was pleasant and gave nice views of the old city across the water. It was all locals on the boat, except for me and one guy from Chicago, with whom i chatted on the way. 
On the other side, for being so close, Casablanca had a slightly different feel, a little less precious, quieter. I walked up a hill toward the giant statue of (surprisingly) Jesus on the hill. 
And from there down a pleasant road bordered by attractive army buildings and rockets, missiles, and planes on display. I paid to go into the fort - the one that is always visible across the water from Havana. 

The for…

The Cigar Dinner Long Con

Friday was Stripes and Noodles' final day in Cuba and they were keen to spend the morning taking full advantage of the inclusiveness of their all-inclusive and we agreed to meet in the mid-afternoon in Havana Vieja, so i had the morning to leisurely stroll about the city. It was good. I could walk without aim, stopping where i liked to drink coffee or take photos. I smoked a cigar while i walked (well, more than one), which attracted calls of "Cohiba!" "Puro. Bueno!" In addition to the usual calls of "Lady!", "Linda!", and various variations of that, accompanied with comments on my tattoos. Difficult to keep a low profile in the non-touristy areas, but i still got some decent photos. 

I loved walking past the empty bodegas with little to sell and the anemic produce stalls, and counters selling endless sandwiches of pork on yellow bread. As touristy as parts of Havana are, it is very easy to find areas with none at all, and i was thankful for…

La Casa Del Musica

Thursday was another lazy day. The only plans we had was to have dinner with Stripes' friend Ramón who is from Havana. I had a late start that day and then just went for a walk around the old city, stopping for a Bolivar at the La Casa Del Habana on Calle Mercaderes, which has a comfortable quartet of chairs for smoking and a another cigar and an espresso on Plaza de Armas. 

I met up with Stripes and Noodles at 3ish. We did a spin around the plaza and i bought a beautiful book from 1870 or so on adultery and one of those Cuban Revolution trading card books that they sell everywhere. Despite their ubiquity, i still think they are pretty cool. From there we walked down to the arts and crafts market where we bought nothing, save for Stripes and Noodles acquiring a couple of rum filled coconuts for sipping. On the way back to my casa to drop off my books, rather than walking, i insisted, over Stripes and Noodles' objections, that the three of us take one of the cute/cheezy coco t…

Smoking not Eating

Yesterday i was super low energy, as i was suffering from a mixture of mild food poisoning and sleep deprivation. Nevertheless it was a good day. I shuffled my way over to the Partagas factory to meet Stripes and Noodles at the vip room for some Cohiba Behikes and coffee. We chatted with El Jefe a local photographer who showed us his work, and a doctor from Canada. After a couple hours there we went by taxi to a Casa del Habano run by the son of Alejandro Robaina, which was a treat. Noodles and El Jefe had lunch; Stripes and i, having no appetite, stuck to smoking. We has some piña coladas, more Cohibas and a Robaina torpedo. The humidors there were exquisite, featuring many cigars i had not seen in years. We sat there for hours smoking, and drinking (me mostly water). It was very relaxing.

We were going to catch a taxi back to Havana Vieja and call it an early night, but we saw a beautiful restaurant and decided to check it out. It was in a grand 1930s house but had opened as a resta…

Exploring Havana

Yesterday i opted to spend the day solo, leaving Stripes and Noodles to stay poolside at their hotel. I started out at the Plaza de Armas, which is my favorite plaza for coffee drinking and people watching. It is leafy, has several nice cafes and is perfect for looking out at the sellers of books, Cuban posters, and antique cameras and odds and ends.

After that i walked to a nearby Casa del Habano, which was lovely. I picked out an H Upmann Magnum 50 and sat inside, smoking and marvelling at the vast selection of cigars.
From there i went on a walk along the sea and chatted with a fisherman before turning back into the city to look at the incredible number of 1950s American cars and street art.

I then went to the large Cuban modern art museum, which had 3 floors of mostly excellent modern art. A lot of great abstracts and political art, as well as a number of statues of Jesus being maimed and impaled by swords and communist sickles. (No photos allowed.)
From there i walked through an …