Havana - Day 2

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Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana
February 15th 2018
Published: February 17th 2018
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So today started with the all-important search for breakfast, and most importantly, COFFEE!. We have no food in the apartment and only half a bottle of water that Carmens mum left us. I still had some cash leftover from yesterdays ATM withdrawal (I didn’t take out much) so we could cover breakfast. We went back to where we found the ATM and it was attached to a bank, so we were able to convert our money to convertibles. Yaay! Even though I had to leave Jo to the business end because a) I’d left my passport at home and b) apparently two people can’t approach the counter at the same time. We split the cash and walked back to our apartment to stash some of it because it is quite a lot to be waking around with. As we have the apartment to ourselves we figured it’d be OK. When we got back to the apartment however I couldn’t find my travel wallet, which contains my passport, visa and remaining US$ & AU$. I pretty much tore the place apart trying to find it. Which I eventually did. Sitting on top of the safe in the back of the closet. And before you ask, we don’t have the combo to the safe (that didn’t translate from Carmens Mum) so that’s why it’s not in there.

Practicalities out of the way, we made our way into the city for some touristing. Our first stop was the Museo de la Ciudad. (museum of the city) It is in a beautiful old building called the Palacia de los Capitanes Generales. (Generals palace) which in itself is worth visiting. The displays in the museum were mainly in English. Lots of random topics. One room was dedicated to the architecture of Havana, which make sense, another was dedicated to the history of the printing press in Cuba. Work that out. They were however very proud of their association with the printed word though. The story I liked the most was the tobacco factory readings. Back in the late 1800’s supervisors in the tobacco factory would read to the employees as they worked which was really popular. The government of the day started to crack down on it as the readings became more propaganda and inspired revolution. After a lot of back and forth (and I think another revolution, not Fidel’s) the institution became enshrined in law because the people loved the practice. I guess it would have been like listening to the radio when you don’t have a radio.

After a light lunch we made our way to Castilla de la Real Fureza. A very impressive looking fort near Plaza de Armas. Inside the fort however is much smaller than we had first imagined. They had lots of displays on the old tall ships and weaponry. Once again most of the displays were in Spanish so we could really only look at the artefacts and pretty pictures. On the top floor there was a room dedicated to artefacts they have managed to recover from the old wreckages. (This did have English translations) One of the custodians approached us an offered to take photo’s of us standing next to all the displays… a lot of photo’s which we thought was a bit over the top. Until she hit us up for a tip, then it made sense.

After the fort we walked along the foreshore to see if we could get a ferry across the bay to Casablanca where there is a huge statue of Jesus. It looks a lot like Christo Redeemer in Rio, but not as big, actually nowhere near as big. We walked a long way to find the ferry stop, then decided we’d do it tomorrow and go for a cerveza instead. While we were enjoying our cerveza’s a folk band started to play at our restaurant. They were fantastic. There were about seven of them playing bass, flute, maracas, guitar and some other percussion instruments I can’t name. The two lead singers were up and dancing and singing, I’ve never seen men shake their groove thing quite like that. Several couples stopped and danced to the music. It was very cool. The men can really move, and unlike Aussie men, they love to dance.

After a couple of drinks we decided to retire to the apartment for a siesta before going out for dinner. On the way we stopped at a shop to buy a couple of beers for the apartment and ciggies (of course) The shop keeper knowing we can’t speak Spanish typed the price into his calculator to show us. “This much” he held up the calculator showing a zero balance. “Excellent!, Beuno” we cried. He double checked, laughed and typed the correct price, CUC11. Siesta consisted of me writing and Jo reading the LP guide. Our neighbours decided to blast us out with music so probably a good thing we didn’t try to sleep anyway.

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