Havana time

Trip Start Jan 16, 2007
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Trip End Mar 01, 2007


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Flag of Cuba  ,
Tuesday, January 23, 2007

As always happens near the end of a sojourn, time accelerates. It's a very welcome feeling after the minute-to-minute worry of last Tuesday and Wednesday. We've had about three good days of walking the area, acquiring a feel for Centro Habana and its rhythms. If we were a rock and the Prado a pond, our progress is like the widening circles after we descended here, working down the sidestreets of Centro and Habana Vieja (old Havana).

Sunday we took Lucy to a kids' programme at one of Cuba's fine arts museums. It was a bit noisy for her -- and of course en Espagnol -- but it gave me a chance to take in the art of Cuba. A whole floor covers post-1950; another the prior periods. The building itself is magnificent. For half an hour Lucy is content jogging the broad ramp that wends about the interior courtyard.

We've eaten out a few times, in a small paladar (privately run restaurant) and a hotel. Both were good. Perhaps the bland food awaits us outside Havana. Monday we lunch then swim at the Hotel Sevilla just off the Prado. It has some great mob and literary associations. Graham Greene's "Our Man in Havana" is set here. Reno'ed by a French conglomerate five years ago, it's a very upscale place. The 5 pesos to use the pool is worth every centavo, especially for the bizarre juxtaposition of the crumbling tenement rising beyond the bare breasts and tropical plants that surround the pool.

Other than the crumbling sidewalks, Havana is very walkable. We tend to push Lucy's stroller (without which the first few days would have been insufferable; thanks for urging us to bring it, Mom) along the edge of the street, where most people walk.

Cuba's spastic mix of '50s Chevy's, Ladas, bici-taxis, horse-drawn carts and bubble-taxis tend to give way to pedestrians. If cars move faster than a relaxed 20 km/hr, they tend to honk warnings as they approach pedestrian-clogged intersections. Public transport in Havana, besides the above, includes mammoth 300-passenger, double-humped buses pulled by trucks (camellos). Then there are the beautiful '50s American cards stuffed with Cubans (collectivos).
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