Havana, Cuba – Day Two

by | March 10, 2017 |

Day Two was our history/political day.

But, first, you gotta love hotel breakfast buffets. At the Hotel Riviera it looks like this:

In the tropics you get all the wonderful fruit – mango, papaya, pineapple, and guava:

Here’s David making his fruit selection

In the backgrounds of both pictures, you’ll see a live band. At breakfast! We had music every morning.

And evening. In the lobby bar of the Riviera the music started at 4:00.

Live music is everywhere in Havana – and all over Cuba, as far as I can tell.

I always knew Cuban music to be exuberant with toe-tapping, hip-swinging rhythms. I found it also to be melodious. One very beautiful song I heard that I loved is “Eternamente Yolanda”

Live music may be plentiful, but wi-fi is not. In fact it’s a slight pain. You have to buy an Etecsa card: 2 CUC for 1 hour. At the Hotel Riviera it only worked in the lobby.

We heard that all public squares have wi-fi, but it might only work for Cubacell users

Then it was off to tourism.

We went to the Parque Central and chose the taxi to tool us around town.

Very slick

Cool dashboard

Immediate point of interest: the Saratoga Hotel. Why? Because both Beyonce and Madonna have stayed there.

Next up: the Barrio Chino “Chinatown” and a cruise down Calle Reina “Queen Street” with the Sagrado Corazon “Sacred Heart” Church, famous for the pope’s recent visit:

Papa Francisco came in September, 2015

One major stop was the José Martí Memorial in Revolution Square:

Vaguely reminiscent of a Babylonian ziggurat

Opposite the memorial is the Che Guevara building:

Hasta la victoria siempre – “Until victory, always”

And next to it is the Camilo Cienfuegos building:

Vas bien Fidel – “You’re doing good, Fidel”

In the middle is a vast parking lot. So the aesthetics were a bit off, at least, for me. But I did get another great photo of our taxi and driver:

Love the straw hat

Not to be missed is Fidel’s Granma yacht – primarily because it’s in the middle of Old Havana, so you’re bound to see it. We came across it our first night.

This boat transported 82 fighters of the Cuban Revolution from Mexico in 1956

For some reason I was more taken by the Fast Delivery truck, which was riddled with bullet holes.

Various artifacts from the Revolution

Back to the taxi tour. When it was over, we returned to the Parque Central then wandered in Old Havana.

Fruits and vegetables

Typical conveyances

A Hemingway hangout

We also encountered Santeras, women who practice Santería, a religion that mixes Christianity with African beliefs and practices such as animal sacrifices:

Her cigar is a nice touch. I couldn’t quite make myself try one.

Not all Santeras are dressed in all white, but most are. In fact, all white clothing is common here:

Whole families may be dressed all in white.

We had a late lunch – or, rather, a lunch at the proper time in Latin American countries. This was when I learned about the rice and beans dish Moros y Cristianos “Moors and Christians,” which I ordered:

Black beans represent the Muslim Moors and the white rice the Spanish Christians

After lunch Phillip and I outlined an article we’re going to write together, and David had stuff to do. After a bit of downtime we took a taxi back into town …

Phillip speaking with the taxi driver. Clearly I’ve got a thing for photographing vintage cars – that is, me, and every other American

… in order to go to the restaurant Floridita, which claims to be the birthplace of the rum-based daiquiri.

Another Hemingway hangout

Jam-packed and with musicians:

Note the oversized cocktail/daiquiri glass on the left

Linguistic note: Daiquirí is the name of a rum-producing area of Cuba and is of Taíno (Arawak Native American) origin.

Final comment: you don’t go to the Floridita for the food.

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This post was written by Julie Andresen

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