First day in Havana and first Mojitos!!!!

Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
Trip End Nov 23, 2010

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Well yesterday didnīt exactly start off great but ended up being all OK, today was going to be perfect, I just had a feeling.  The other guests in the guest house were a young American couple Jaron and Ryann who had arrive in from Cancun a few hours before me.  Unfortunately their experience at Havana airport wasnīt as nice as mine and to make matters worse the friendly ATM just wouldnīt give them any money.  Hey it is not their fault that there is an American economic blockade of Cuba. They were going to try a few more ATMs in the hope that another would be nicer to them.  During our chat they dropped the bombshell on me.  I was flying out the following Wed with Mexicana to Cancun but it turns out that they had just gone bust!  Say WHAT!!!  It was a wonder that the ever efficient German airline didnīt spot this in Frankfurt and refuse me entry as I didnīt have a valid exit ticket.  Crap, ah well there was nothing that I could do about it today as I had my tour of old Habana booked and I was determined to get a mojito. Right time to go explore. 

Met Berta my tour guide at Plaza de Armas, a beautiful old restored square filled with trees and book sellers.  Headed to the top of one of the expensive hotels on the square just to get a birds eye view and it was so worth it.  a lot of restoration had been done on the old town, Habana Vieja, and it was well worth it.  After running around a tree three times and throwing a coin over my shoulder, as is the custom, we were ready for the tour. 

Berta seemed to know everything about everything and everyone seemed to know Berta.  There was a lot of greeting in the streets and the occasional kisses.  Great to be popular eh! Saw the Floridita, where Hemingway got his daiquiris, Bodagita where Hemingway drank his moitos, with all that booze in him it is a wonder that he managed to write anything at all!!!  We wandered around the 5 squares, 4 of which have been renovated back to former glory and the back streets where you hear jazz and salsa coming out of every open doorway and shuttered windows.  It seems that life goes at a different pace in old Habana.  So many people buzzing about that the whole embargo doesnīt seem to be having an effect, but then again we donīt have to contend with ration cards and food shortages.  Iīm defo going to come back here and just hang out at a streetside cafe and watch the world go bye. So what else was there, museum of chocolate (yes you heard right), I know some people who would have to be evicted from that museum, churches, squares mojitos, perfume factory's (old style ones) I could have spent hours there.  Took a taxi around to see the Malecon, Capitolio, Prado, Plaza de Revolution and then to embassy row where she showed me the British embassy (Hmmmm enough said).  Back to the old town and by now I was gagging for my first cuban Havana Club mojito.  It better be worth the wait!!!

Deciding that a drink was now more important that food we settled in on our bar stools for my first one.  It was according to Berta the best place for mojitos in all of Habana but I think I was going to be the judge of that.  The first didnīt last too long and it would just have been rude to leave so we hand another followed by some political talk, followed by no 3 which lead to some spontaneous salsa dancing.  After 3 I decided to stop counting. 

On my travels I came across an interesting street name called OīReilly.  Seems he was some Spanish dude that helped liberate the city from the British, bet his dad was proud of him.

Back at the house things have not got any better for Jaron and Ryann who canīt draw money from any of their US accounts and after putting money aside for room and tax's they are left with about 3 euro a day to get by.  Nothing like a challenge and a daily diet of peanut butter and bread.  As it was my last night in Habana I decided to take them out for a last meal as I was heading to Maria La Gorda the following morning to try some scuba diving.

Still having problems with getting calls and text out to home.  Able to receive them all right but nothing going out.  My missed call count and text count is mounting and I just know that people are starting to worry when they have not heard from me.  Well so ends the first full day in Cuba and having a blast so far.
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dome on

Wow; promising start to blog Seamo; had no idea you were such a storyteller. Its got detail, drama, energy & characters; what more could you ask for; I'm hooked!! Roll on next episode.....

Anshu on

I agree!! hokked I am too, such a glib talker (didnt we know that!) and a brilliant narrator. Its like I am walking on the streets of Havana, sans the Mojito of course!!

Keep 'em coming Seamus!! and have a good one!!

Aoife B on

Takes me back Seamus! Havana is defo on my must go back to list.Looking forward to hearing about Maria la Gorda,the dive guides are excellent salsa teachers too.Safe travels & big luv.

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