Apr 16, 2013

An exercise in Cuban carelessness - Rainy Havana (Part 4)

As the previous night we experienced rather well the night life of Havana, on the next day it’s very cloudy in our heads. While having a breakfast, the mischievous clouds from our heads move one by one to the sky and hide the sun from our eyes. Seconds later, they greet us with the show “Torrential Caribbean rain”, which according to Osmel’s forecast will last 45 minutes max. Soon, it gets clear that the downpour will be more like a full day event, that’s why our daily tour takes on the following format – closed spaces, as in museums.

Driving around Havana, we pass near Malekon or at least try to, since the promenade is blocked by two soaked militiaman. The sea, similar to a small boy that is not very skillful at the flirting yet, not just sprinkles Malekon, but floods it outright with its naughty waves.

We go to El Capitolio, where was situated the government of Cuba before the revolution of 1959, and now houses the Cuban Science Academy. The place is huge and grandiose compared to the building of the current parliament, which is uncomely marble mastodon. In the center of the floor under the main dome, was built in a 25 carat diamond, which is claimed to be owned by the Russian tzar Nicolay II. After one successful theft and the mysterious return after two months, in the floor was built in a copy. Unfortunately, we did not understand where the original one is, nor they gave us its contacts. The diamond copy is being closely watched by the 15 m Statue of the Republic, which supposedly is the third largest indoor (under a dome) statue in the world after the Great Buddha of Nara and Lincoln’s memorial in Washington.
El Capitolio’s dome

I find a small balcony, which is being used mostly by smokers and start absorbing the wet world outside with my camera.
№502 1
Some men are taking shelter at the entrance of a building, waiting for the weather to calm down.
№502 2
When we look at the bigger picture, we can see the deeds of the local storms that have washed away the color of №502 facade.

In the former parliamentary hall, we go behind the rope for one peso and substitute Castro for a while, addressing to the local representatives that they have to be more adelante, but with do not get covered by the local national TV channel. The employee that has to keep an eye on the visitors, for an extra peso or two get us into the former president’s cabinet and even allows us to take his place and pose for some serious leadership pictures in shorts and flip flops on his desk. The short road to fame turns out to be quite cheap. And the fame is rather short, as well.

We continue with out tour of Capitolio and find a local artist exhibiting wooden artworks.
For the family album
I get a picture with the artist and one of his works – a cat that have stuck its bottom out and has big cojones.
The Hall of the Lost Steps
On both sides of the main dome is situated the Hall of the Lost Steps, named after its acoustic properties.

I get back to the magical balcony and absorb some more of the wet world outside.
Romance in red
Next to my already favorite red car and blue building a parting is about to happen.
Passenger or passerby
A man approaches and old and beat up Icarus, which awaits him with open arms.
Polish bee
A golden Polish Fiat darts itself on the wet streets.
Moisture in excess
The miserable condition of the majority of the housing in Havana, maybe in the entire Cuba.
El Capitolio
In the dry or at least not in the very wet
Two horse carriages are parked under the crowns of some tree in an attempt to hide from the rain.

We end our tour of the grandiose building and proceed to the Museum of the Revolution, the former Presidential palace, which shows lots of pictures and artifacts about the revolution and Cuba as a whole. Among the exhibits are three large caricatures of Bush Senior, Batista and Reagan, to which is given gratitude for their “active” part in the 1959 Revolution.
The ball hall
Our group is taking a look of the empty ball hall of the former Presidential palace.

Next to the museum is located the Granma outdoor memorial, that includes various important war exhibits – a T-34 tank, used personally by Fidel in the Bay of Pigs to shoot at the Houston aircraft carrier, a couple of shot down US planes, a tractor turned by workers from a sugar plant into an armored vehicle with flamethrowers and named appropriately - Dragon 1, and the Granma yacht, with which Fidel, his brother and Che left Mexico and started their fight.

At sunset, we go to the beginning of Malekon – the love artery of Havana. There, the lamp posts and the sky pose for some romantic photos.
The love stories of Malekon and the sky 1
The love stories of Malekon and the sky 2

Later in the evening, we go to Habana Café at the Cohiba Melia Hotel, which is a cabaret or something like that, and is decorated with two life size Cadillacs and one plane. Here, the people pay attention to the details, even if they are with rather massive proportions. The host makes contact with the visitors and we politely let him know that there are some Bulgarians in the house. No beating on the chest and no screams "Bulgar". After a while, someone tries to buy us a drink, to the five of us, not just the girls, but we skip the special attention. A little bit later the mysterious guy reminds us of himself and sends us his business card – a Bulgarian, working at the UN in Haiti. We invite him at our table and get talking. He recommends us a visit to the Dominican Republic, or at least to the male part of our group.

He explains to us that the people on the next table are the boss of CubaCell – the local mobile operator and the ambassador of Montenegro. The diplomat makes an impression with his dancing moves, which don't have a point of contact with the abilities and the grace of the three dancers that have surrounded him. Invited by the dancers, we go on the dance floor, but despite the large quantity of sugar cane juice and cigar smoke that have sucked in our bodies, we cannot repeat the graceful movements of the locals. We promise ourselves that when we get back in Bulgaria we will learn to salsa.

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