My trip to Cuba began in the heart of its capital, the city of Centro Habana. The decision to start my tour here was not random, I wanted to start with a true look at Downtown life, between the old and the modern, the popular life of the Habaneros who swirl to their work, shopping or chatting to their neighbors while the children play marbles and jump rope. My goal was to mingle among them and I got it, thanks also to the help of the family of Cándida, who, more than my hosts, became friends and guides of this journey.
The first day in Centro Habana, I walked from the Malecón Habanero, which in this part is guarded by an amalgam of buildings in restoration and others in ruins and with an incredible view to the Complex Morro-Cabaña. Then I admire the eclectic cuban architecture in many of its buildings, hotels and bars along the Paseo del Prado and I was part of the daily comings and goings of the people who walk the boulevard of San Rafael. I ended up directing towards Chinatown, singular and full of restaurants, plastic arts exhibitions and dance workshops. With my head full of questions I arrived where Candida and her family, who explained to me about the everyday hazards of the habaneros, their stories and idiosyncrasy and invited me to accompany them in the purchase and elaboration of a typical meal (congrí rice, roasted pork, cassava with mojo and tostones). I enjoyed a lot when in the market the dependents showed me their best merchandise while they taught me in good “Cuban” some popular slang phrases. I have to confess that not even the Spanish Royal Academy could have explained to me that the term “lucha” was going to have the meanings I found in Cuba, hahaha.
My second day was dedicated to the visit to the Alley of Hamel, I knew in advance that it is a unique site of its kind in the city and very linked to the Afro-Cuban religions and I have to confess that it exceeded my expectations. I took beautiful memories and some other step of rumba that I perfected later in the dance classes with Osmaida. Motivated by my advances with the Cuban dance, I invited my hosts to accompany me to a function at the Havana House of Music. Surprising and spectacular are two of the words that come to mind when I think about the experiences of that couple of days. Without telling you the ones I lived in Old Havana, but that will be the subject for another publication.