CUBA- A Day in Havana

Cuba is the new place to be. Wherever I go people tell me that they want to go to Cuba, that they are so fascinated by the country and now even Chanel went there.
So it appears that a lot of people ask me questions about the place and my experiences.
Most of the questions are not about the nature or the politics but about the flair and the life there.
That gave me the idea of trying to capture a day in Cuba. I know that I won’t even come close to the feeling. But one can try, and you’ll get an idea of it.
Once more, if you happen to have any questions about Cuba or my experiences there, don’t hesitate to ask. I will be very happy to answer your questions. Also if you have made other experiences than I did, I ould love to hear about it!
I am going to describe a typical day in Cuba. . .

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Wherever you go, there is art in Cuba! Viva Cuba!

I usually got up pretty early. At the beginning because I had a jet lag and later because the sun would wake me up. ( Which is a pretty good way to start the day)
Then I’d go to the kitchen and clean this little cup I had. Then I started boiling water. And added vinegar to it ( to clean the cup that I used for boiling water), then take some more water ( without vinegar) and start to boil the actual water for the tea.
I like to drink tea in the morning, and in Cuba this meant a very long procedure, for a very small cup of tea.
While waiting for the water to boil I used to have very long discussions with myself, if I was in the mood for a cold shower or if I’d rather shower later.
As I didn’t have hot water ( until the very last day), and my bathroom was a little bit scary ( due to animals living right over my head) I wasn’t to keen on spending too much time in there. Also you couldn’t really rely on the lamps, so it was very dark.
That’s also why I used to brush my teeth in the kitchen…

IMG_7343This was my terrace. The whole apartment was flu of plants and very green! So beautiful! I actually had hummingbirds flying around the flowers all the time!

 
So if I had decided to take a shower, I would take some of the boiling water to clean my cup and to clean the teabag ( by holding it over the kitchen sink and pour some hot water over it) as there were a lot of ants, and they preferably lived in my teabags, no matter how good I tried to pack them. And then finally put the teabag in the cup to start brewing my tea. In case there were some more animals interested in my tea, I covered the cup with paper towel . Then took a quick shower, while boiling some more water.
After the shower I could finally start to drink my tea, while letting cool down the other hot water.
Between all of this I was getting dressed and cleaning some of my stuff with hands .
After I finished my cup of tea, I went to the kitchen to brush my teeth.
I used the boiled water to moist my toothbrush, then use the water to clean my mouth and to clean the toothbrush.
The leftovers from the hot water,I would use to clean my cup and everything else I used and then put it in the fridge, so the bacteria colonies had no chance to grow.

It might seem a little paranoid, and now when I think of  what I did to have clean water and clean utensils it seems a little crazy, but you only have to see the water from the tab there, and you will understand. Believe me.
Plus the experience of almost drinking an ant because I didn’t realize that they also came out of the teabags. It makes you…let’s say…a little more careful.

IMG_6812 La Casa de Morales! This is the place where I lived. I think it used to be white! 😀

Then it was time for going to La Habana Vieja.
As I lived right in the middle of Vedado, one of the three big quarters of Havana, it was quite a long way.
Most of the time I’d walk a bit to one of the big streets and catch an “Almendron” which is something like a taxi for actual Cubans.
You just try to stop one (most of the time they drive the same round over and over again), hand the driver 10 CUP and tell him where you wanted to get off. This is one of the easiest ways to get from one point to another in Cuba. Though it’s quite important that they don’t get that you are a tourist, as they will make you pay more.
So on my first days, when I didn’t speak a single word Spanish, I would just pay him and give him a sign and stay quiet for the rest of the time.
One time, there were two American tourists in the Almendron . They really payed 20 CUC ( so 20$),normally the price for getting to and back from the airport ( which is super far away).
When the weather was good and the humidity wasn’t too high so you didn’t expect a thunder storm, I also liked to walk to Havana Vieja (Old Havana). This would usually take me a couple of hours, as it is quite a long way and I stopped at the Malécon for like half an hour to enjoy the sun and the beautiful sea.
Also you meet lots of people on the way down there.

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On my way to Havana Vieja, I walked along the Malécon!

This is a very special thing about Havana.
It is impossible to NOT meet a person again. When it comes to that ,the city is like a village. You just know people.
There was not even one person I talked to, that I only met once. It doesn’t even matter where you are, if Havana Vieja or not, you will meet them again.
That’s sort of fun, because you are never very lonely, and as the Cubans love to be friends with everyone and are very spontaneous, you will always find people you can spend time with.
Sometimes, I was actually glad, when I made my way down to the port without lots of people joining me.

Once I got to Havana Vieja I would go right away to the center to a street called “O’Reilly’s”, to meet Pablo and David and sometimes Mileidi.
Pablo and David were both musicians so we used to spend most of the time going to different places and sing and dance and make music with other people. Talking to people.
Or trying to find interesting art galleries and a good and cheap place to eat.
Once we spend a whole day, looking for salad with olive oil, as Pablo was craving for it. Luckily he doesn’t get as grumpy as David when he’s hungry, and we actually found a place where they had it.
Also we spend a lot of time reading or trying to connect to the western world- which was more or less successful.

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One of my favorite places in Havana and probably one of the best art galleries I have ever been to!- El Ojo Del Ciclón.

At about 5 o’clock we would go back to their place to take a nap. Time for siesta!

(Oh you can’t imagine how messed up my sleeping schedule was, when I came back home.  I got so used to my little siesta-I really had a hard time, letting go of it.)

Once we had enough sleep, it was time for food.
We had this one place, that we would always go to.
It was very hidden and I doubt that it had an actual name. It was a place that only Cuban people went to and we would have never known about it if we hadn’t spend so much time on the streets.
On the third floor of an old ruin, we had the best food in town.
It was right next to a place called ” El Patchanka”, where an old man would entertain the guests every night, making a really good show-like you’d imagine the 50’ies in Cuba.
So this restaurant doesn’t really work like an actual restaurant. They used to have about one to three dishes of the day, not something like a menu.
Most of the time it was one dish with chicken and one with fish. They had huge plates.
A typical dinner there was rice, black beans, some sort of salad and chicken in lemon sauce. It was great!
Sure, you get sick of it, after some time, but then also it wasn’t the exact same thing every day and we only had to pay about 2-3$ for a meal and drinks.

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This is in El Patchanka. Musician taking a short break and a big Mojito!

After eating we would stop by at El Patchanka, saying hi to our friend there and then went to a park that’s right between the two streets “Obispo” and “O’Reillys”.
Until we were there we had usually a lot more people with us. There was always someone with a guitar or a flute or some other instrument. And if not, our bodies functioned as instruments.
As Cubans aren’t really welcomed in most of the places you would want to go to, we barely spend time in bars.
Instead, we bought some rum and stroll around the streets until we had found a place where there was good music and nice people.
We would dance salsa on the street, no matter if there was music or not, and we were friends with everyone.
The Cuban nights were special.

I always took a cab back home. I didn’t feel comfortable in the Almendrons night time, plus I would have to walk quite a bit until I would arrive at home.Most of the time I knew the drivers, so they gave me quite a good price ( 6CUC) and then I went home, climbing up all the stairs to my apartment on top of the building, and falling into bed.

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Yes, cars in Cuba are still pretty cool and people use them not only for the tourists!

So even though, basic things like a cup of tea or stuff like that were pretty hard, you forget about all of that, once you feel Cuban.

 

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