Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Havana, Day 1

Cuba had never been a bucket list destination for me. It might be because it is so difficult to reach. Traveling to Mexico first just seemed like too much of a hassle. But when my local bar association offered a government-approved trip to Havana, I jumped at the opportunity. 

Just before boarding in Miami, a Cuban official standing next to the American Airlines gate agent stamped my boarding pass.

It was a short hourlong flight to Havana. There were hardly any lights on. Approaching the city of two million at night was more like approaching Maui.

While taxiing, I lost my mind when I saw an Angolan airliner. I did not whip out my phone fast enough.

On the first morning, we got a tour of the old town. It was led by an architect who had not led a tour in over two years. Covid shut the entire country down, including the vital tourism sector. He apologized for his rusty English. I'm not a big architecture buff so I was distracted by other things, like this car.

Or this stray dog.

This mosque was interesting.

We had a mediocre lunch in a touristy part of town. Thankfully, it was our only meh meal.

In the afternoon, we were going to have our first lecture. This was supposed to be an educational trip. Unfortunately, our lecturer had just fled to Nicaragua (visas are not required for Cubans) and was walking to the Texas border. The substitute was a law professor from the University of Havana who discussed the new law allowing private entrepreneurs to hire employees and form LLCs. The gist was that the Cuban economy needs major changes quickly but the new law may not be enough.

After the lecture, I waited outside for our bus to take some of us to our B&B. This Volga was parked outside.

I shot this photo from the bus. The city is crumbling. One in three buildings has completely collapsed, with rubble strewn everywhere. The other buildings are barely hanging on. Nothing could withstand a moderate earthquake.

Before dinner, we went to a nightclub where a music professor and three musicians went over the entire 500 year history of Cuban music in an hour.

For dinner, we went to La Guarida, where the famous Cuban movie Strawberry and Chocolate was shot. 


This AMERICAN van was parked outside. The only other post-revolution American cars I spotted during the entire trip included this van, a Dodge Neon, and an early 1980s Dodge Charger with yellow racing livery.

Every lunch and dinner we had included two complimentary mojitos.

A few of us ordered Old Fashioneds with rum. They were each served inside a smoke-filled glass cake dome.

1 comment:

Gregory said...

Looking forward to Day 2 now... good dog pic, btw.