Christ Del Balso blogging from Havana, Cuba

Havana Cuba

Sunday, March 2nd, 2015, 6:30 am

havana1.jpgIt’s an early morning in Havana and I’m sitting on our balcony watching the world wake up. The streets are very busy with people dashing about or waiting at the side of the road for rides. Private taxis in the guise of vintage cars (I say guise because although many look restored, none have original engines and the colors are definitely not vintage) come along frequently discharging and loading passengers every few minutes. Cars stop and people say where they are going and either get in or wait for another hoping it will take them in their direction. It’s not uncommon to see 6-7 people or more in a car. I’m wondering where they are off to so early this morning.

havana2.jpgYesterday I met an interesting artist whose work I liked very much. He is 35 and trained here in Cuba and has been invited to participate in the upcoming Biennial in Havana. I suspect he may be quite successful, but that’s only according to my rather untrained eye.

Food has lived down to the descriptions from others who have been here so we are learning to manage our expectations. It will be good for the hips to eat less although the breakfast buffet I saw this morning looked pretty tempting.

This morning after an architectural lecture we headed off to Old Havana and then visited two different art studios. It’s hard for us to be in a group because there’s no opportunity to dawdle and most people know that’s what I like to do best! It was fascinating to walk down the streets seeing the old contrasted with the new. There’s such potential here in the city and those who live here take every opportunity to start a business where they can. There’s definitely change in the air and we’re told that there are high expectations among the population.

havaba3.jpgAlthough there’s rubble and decay everywhere, the streets and sidewalks are relatively clean, free of trash and there seems to be pride in ownership. We didn’t know that 90% of the population own their own homes. So far we haven’t witnessed many beggars or homeless people; and while there are opportunists looking to score with the tourists, they’re polite and move on when refused.

Our free evening was spent at a Paradar in Old Havana called “Ivan Chef”. Paradars are restaurants run in private homes. Our table for 4 was on the rooftop and proved to be the best meal we’ve had so far.

Christ Del Balso's Travel Blog: Matanzas & Varadero Cuba

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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