We arrived into Havana (La Habana) late last night and found our accommodation at Hostel Rolando (one of the few hostels in the country that’s decent enough and cheaper than most Casa Particulares’) without much difficulty. The owner, Rolando, gave us an introduction to the City as well as a map that had a number of places to visit.
On first impressions, even more so at nighttime, Havana is a bit of an indimidating place, especially having come from somewhere like Mexico where I didnt once feel threatened or intimidated. It’s not that we felt in danger at any stage, its just strange to have your guard up and be so alert after a month of chilling out.
We ventured out to find some dinner, walking down to the waterfront and along to La Punta, eventually finding somewhere to eat. After dinner we were on out way to Habana Vieja (Old Havana) when we were approached by a local couple on the street who insisted on taking us to a good, local bar. Long story short we ended up paying a lot for our drinks (and theirs) and got taken for a bit of a ride. Nothing too painful, but lesson learned.
This morning we left a very sick little Payno in bed on antibiotics (our bodies are finally giving up after the beating they took in Cancun), and Kelvin, ML and I headed out to explore Habana Vieja. Havana really needs to be seen to believed. It’s one of those places that epitomises the saying that “the photos just dont do it justice”. The old buildings are absolutely amazing, but all falling down after half a century of neglect, not because people dont care, but because they dont have the money to do anything about it. The average wage for over 90% of the Cuban population is about AUD$20 a month. While they get free schooling, healthcare, food rations etc, its simply not enough to live off. You can tell this while walking the streets as well, with locals taking any cance to ask for a few pesos, which is totally understandable, but again a bit of a shock after coming from Mexico where we had nothing like that.
So the morning was spent wandering through the streets of Old Havana, visiting the Museum De La Revolucion, chilling to a local band while eating lunch and wandering some more. This afternoon we’re just chilling out some more, taking time to let our bodies recover. Considering that 3 out of the 4 of us are now on antibiotics, I think that tonight might be a relatively quiet night again.
Tomorrow we’re going to wander through the other part of Havana, checking out the important sights as well as either booking a bus or finding a driver to take us to Trinidad the day after. We’re hoping to find a taxi driver that has an old, All American car (preferably a convertable) that can drive us. Apparently with four people this should cost about the same as the bus, but we’ll see how we go.