We are all settled in Marina Hemingway here in Havana for a few days prior to heading back to the States and what a great spot it is. Pandora is tied up adjacent to the hotel and pool, a great place to just hang out and enjoy the moment. However, we really don’t have time to sit around as there is just so much to do in Havana. And yesterday, we “did” plenty.
Here’s Pandora, tied up right across the street from the pool.She has a nice looking neighbor, a lovely trawler. I don’t think that the owners are nearby right now as she looks vacant. Actually, there are plenty of yachts in the marina that appear to be in storage waiting for their owners to return. Perhaps that’s because staying here is a lot less expensive at about $1/ft than the Keys or southern FL , only 100 miles away where the rates are 3-4x that. Like so much of Cuba, the marina is “mixed” with some parts very nice and others, well not so nice. Happily, Pandora is in a very nice section and she should be as I specifically asked to move here yesterday after scoping out the area to find the best spot, being the “shy guy” that I am.
Yesterday we took a cab the 20 minutes from Marina Hemmingway into old Havana, the home of a remarkable number of beautifully restored buildings. According to the guidebook, there are more than 1,000 historic buildings that have been meticulously restored to their former glory and how glorious they are. We had been told that the buildings in Cuba were crumbling and certainly many are but an amazing number have been kept up and are as beautiful as those that you will see in any European city. Havana, and “old Havana” in particular, has something beautiful to see on every street corner. And, unlike so many so called “historic districts” people still live and work in these areas and I don’t just mean in T-shirt shops selling stuff to tourists. These magnificent buildings are still occupied by families, as they have been for hundreds of years, as witnessed by the laundry hanging on many balconies. And, of course, the constant parade of beautiful old “Detroit iron”. There are lovely public squares, green spaces, surrounded by magnificent buildings, some dating back to the 1500s. I particularly loved this coffee shop doorway.Of course, there are the cars, many in amazingly great condition. We happened upon several areas that have been claimed by a group of convertibles. This lineup looks like a car show but they are actually working taxies ready to hire.Everywhere you look, beautiful cars.
How about this beautiful T-bird on its’ way for a tour of the city?They come in every color of the rainbow. I doubt that any of these left Detroit in the colors that they sport these days. You don’t see many Sunbeams these days either. Not sure the interior is original. NOT, for sure but a show stopper. In addition to the cars, everywhere you turn there is something colorful to see and hear. A group of minstrels paraded through one of the squares, complete with two on stilts. No missing them, that’s for sure.We went to dinner in a beautiful paladar, a private, family run restaurant. Unfortunately, I mistakenly deleted those photos. We’ll have to go back to day to take them again. Such is the power of computers and clumsy operators, moi, made more so by a bit too much vino.
On the way home to the marina and Pandora we chose a 1952 Chevy convertible with a white interior that blasted it’s way through Havana. In the balmy “summer” evening air, it was a wonderful trip. The driver said that he had never delivered anyone to a “yacht” before and was quite interested in having his car parked near Pandora. Sorry, but even an i-Phone won’t take good photos in the dark. I guess you had to be there to appreciate the moment.Earlier in the day we walked through this lovely square where they were setting up for some sort of tour dinner. The tables looked beautiful in the afternoon light. The entertainment was “angelic” as witnessed by this group of entertainers and like everyone else we have encountered in Cuba, they were very friendly and were happy to pose for a “Kodak moment”. After dark, the square really came alive. What a beautiful sight. I asked one of the “party goers” who was attending the dinner and learned that it was a group of architects, members of the American Institute of Architects. Of all the groups that I might have encountered in Havana, I couldn’t believe it was a group of architects as my Dad was publisher of a magazine in that field for many years. He passed away two years ago and hardly a day goes by, especially during our tour of Cuba, that I haven’t thought about how much he would have loved to “follow along” with us.
It was a very emotional moment when I thought about how much he would have enjoyed hearing about this serendipitous moment of rubbing elbows with the AIA in Havana, of all places. For over 7 years I kept this blog for him and my mother, who would read my posts together in the evenings over a glass of wine.
I wrote about this in “why I write this blog” shortly after his passing and I still think about him every time I write a post. Running into the AIA last night brought back such a flood of memories.
It’s been nearly two months since we cleared into Cuba, after our run from the Bahamas and what a trip it has been. And now, here in Havana, our last stop in Cuba, we have indeed saved the “best for last”.
Yes, I am looking forward to being home again in CT but as I sit here aboard Pandora in the “historic” marina Hemingway, I have to say that it’s going to be hard to pry ourselves away from this beautiful city.
In a way, perhaps we’ll never really leave Cuba with so many amazing memories from our visit.
Dad, if you are reading along, and I hope you are, you would have loved this place and this post is for you, as they all are.
Enough nostalgia for now. Time to get going as there’s just so much to see and Havana beckons.