Cuba 1: La Habana
Young fella just off the plane in Paris and he’s snapping pictures like a crocodile of everything he sees. He’ll learn. Had to tell him to hurry or we’d miss the flight to Havana. We got it though.
“Have a pleasant fight,” the pilot said. So we did, great fun. He watched Dumbo and loved it, enchanted, laughing out loud. He constantly wanted to look at the map to see where we were. He’s obsessed with maps. Eventually though, thankfully, he fell asleep, and here we are now, approaching the Bermuda Triangle, Isla Somerset on the left ahead.
Survived the Triangle, landed. Passport control, visas, forms, searches, baggage scrambles – chaos. Walk up the broken escalator to the toilet. Toilet doesn’t flush, no soap, tap doesn’t work.
“Nothing works here!” Yep, welcome to Cuba little man. It’s great.
All quickly forgotten when we get outside. “Palm trees!!!”
“Did you already see a real palm tree?” he asks in the taxi to the hotel. Vintage cars going the other way. Taxi driver laughs at our excitement over the “coches antiguos.”
Breakfast: omelette and pineapple.
“I’m looking forward to seeing palm trees. I will do a picture from palm trees,” he says.
You’re going to get into palm trees to take pictures? I think he wants pictures of palm trees.
Walking walking walking. Best way to see a place. Goosebumps when we leave our hostal in Vedado after seeing all the old cars, loads of them! Then the people, the place, the bustle, everything. Actual goosebumps. So happy. A dream.
Young fella says he’s grand walking. Continue up to Habana Libre hotel, then Malecón, Habana Centro, Habana Viejo, the fort, cathedral, Plaza Vieja, back through Chinatown, San Martin, a wrong turn, major fuck up, leading to more wrong turns. Rain starts when we finally find our hostal. The relief! We walked 15 or 16 kilometers altogether. Feel bad for the young fella, exhausted by the end.
A restaurant tip and we’re out again. Young fella makes new friend of the waitress, tickling and chasing. She asks us to come back again in two days – she’s off tomorrow.
He made loads of friends today. We stopped along San Martin to watch kids playing baseball on the street. He’d never seen or even heard of it before. They invited him to play. Of course he didn’t, just wanted to watch.
Cuban kids so brazen. Just straight up, what’s your name, where do you come from? Adults the same, friendly as fuck.
“It’s dirty, everything’s going to shit and nothing works but it’s great,” I tell the young fella. He smiles. I’d struck a chord.
I love the place already. 3 mojitos, 313 pictures taken.