Cuba 1: La Habana
The young fella is just off the plane in Paris and he’s snapping pictures like a crocodile of everything he sees with the camera he got from Santa. He’ll learn. I had to tell him to hurry or we’d miss the flight to Havana.
“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 before long we were approaching the Bermuda Triangle, Isla Somerset on the left.
We survived the Triangle and landed. Passport control, visas, forms, searches, baggage scrambles – chaos. We walked up the broken escalator to the toilet. The toilet didn’t flush, there was no soap, the tap didn’t work.
“Nothing works here!”
Yep, welcome to Cuba little man. It’s great.
All was quickly forgotten when we got outside.
“Did you already see a real palm tree?” he asked me in the taxi to the hotel. Vintage cars were going the other way. The taxi driver laughed 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,” the young fella declares.
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. I get 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.
The young fella says he’s grand walking. We continue up to the 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. Suddenly it’s dark and we don’t really know where we are. The young fella sits on a stone and looks up at me with big sad cow eyes. He’s exhausted. I’ve never seen him so tired before. We never walked so far before, 15 or 16 kilometers altogether. Not bad for a still-five-year-old. The rain starts when we finally find our hostal. The relief!
We’re out again after getting a restaurant tip from our friendly hosts. The young fella makes new friend of the waitress, tickling and chasing, not tired any more. 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 are 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 struck a chord.
I love the place already. Three mojitos, 313 pictures taken.