Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Day 2 - Havana

The city of Havana is truly amazing. There are parts of it which look like a run-down favela but other parts which have been lovingly restored to their former glory. Havana vieja (the old town) is almost fully restored, and offers a glimpse of what the rest of the city and many other cities on the island could look like if they spent some government money on reconstruction. There are some squares in the capital which are amazing - fully restored gleaming buildings standing next to a run-down apartment building.

Then there is the malecon, a long sea wall built by the Americans at the turn of the last century, which protects the city from the wrath of the sea. While we were there, certainly at the beginning, the sea didn't seem to angry at all, although we did slide around on the concrete pavement which was made slippery by a combination of Havana dust, seawater and algae which grow in the warm, wet conditions there.

In the evenings, it seems all of young Havana (70% of the city's population is under 20 years old) convene along the malecon to laugh, dance and chat with their friends. Chatting to tourists and seeing how many pesos they can get from them also seems like a popular pastime... We enjoyed a few bottles of Havana Club and the boys enjoyed many a cigar along this long sea wall during our time in Havana.

In the evening on the second day, we went to a government owned restaurant. In Cuba there are two kinds of restaurant, the government owned kind and the paladare - strictly regulated, but privately owned. We soon discovered the best kind. In the restaurant service was slow and almost rude (understandable given that salaries are less than 20€/month), the food was greasy, tepid and basically not at all good. We decided to try a paladare the next night, and we were not disappointed.

1 comment:

Lola said...

Looks and sounds amazing.. talk soon hon xxx