Havana was a truly unique experience. As it changes every day I’m so grateful to have gotten over there this January & I can’t wait to go back. To me it felt like seeing a country that was doing super well and then decided to move back with their parents about 55 years ago & the parents went broke - really broke. I know, I know it’s a lot more complicated than that but that’s what it looked like. There’s these magnificent buildings, you can see the fine bones of grand architecture but a closer look reveals hammocks slung from beams and a jungle growing inside with goats and chickens peeking out from the once elegant and now crumbling balconies.
I had heard good food was scarce and that’s no lie. There was scarcely evidence of any food at all. There are no stores to speak of. Many a doorway left open exposing hand crafted art & Che T-Shirts or selling coffee or small scary snacks. Every other block would have a veggie cart with a few braids of onions and some sad little potatoes. Never saw anything like a grocery or drug store. There are dark open rooms where Cubans get their rations but they also appeared very bleak. The lighting is obviously controlled and scarce, a cast of pale yellow prevails at night. That said, the loosening of private business has made way for some really wonderful private restaurants and we had excellent meals of lobster, mojitos and fresh produce - god knows from where - but they were glorious and reasonably priced as well.
I felt safe, even at night with just the usual precautions one would employee most anywhere. Spanish is a pretty important skill as English is very rarely spoken. Fares for a coco taxi, shared car, horse drawn carriage, or those lovely cars should be negotiated in advance as meters are not used. Right outside of the Havana airport exchange euros for the best rate for Cuban tourist currency.
There’s so much to see & learn, I can’t wait to go back.
Lynette La Mere, Executive Chef, Pure Joy Catering
For more fabulous shots of Cuba Check out Lucas Oliver Oswald