Friday, 5 June 2015
We arrived back in Havana during the Biennale, which featured numerous art installations along the Malecón. Susie set aside a morning to take the camera on an art tour, so we made our way down to the harbour and walked back along the seawall almost to Vedado.
The artworks were mostly large sculptural objects. One of the most memorable was a beautiful bust of a woman the height of a two-story building. Other artworks had humorous and/or political dimensions, such as a giant game of pickup sticks painted with stars and stripes.
Afterwards we meandered through Centro, where the narrow streets get choked by trucks and all manner of other hazards, and a leisurely walk feels more like an obstacle course. Whilst Susie took photos, I would try to ensure that she didn’t get hit by a car or a horse-drawn cart or a bici-taxi while she was gazing through the viewfinder.
Around the middle of the day we returned to the casa, packed, and for the second and last time bid farewell to our amiable host, Alberto. It was at this point that we collected Clare’s suitcase which she had left many weeks ago when we departed for Baracoa. It contained much of her luggage from her exchange study in Miami. Suddenly we had switched from travelling light to travelling heavy.
Susie walked down to Hotel Deauville and organised a taxi to take us to our new casa in Vedado. It was located on the 14th floor of an apartment building on Avenida Los Presidentes. The views from the room were spectacular. It faced east, and so there were sweeping views of Vedado between the building and the Malecón, and past Hotel Havana Libre back towards Centro Havana. As we soon discovered, the other parts of the casa where we had breakfast had equally breathtaking views.
Once we had settled in, we asked our new host, Marte, where we might get a meal. She told us about two paladars nearby. We decided to try the closest one. We enjoyed a slap-up lunch which would obviate the need for dinner due to the Cuban-sized servings. During lunch there was a deafening thunderclap and a waitress scrambled to lower rows of bamboo blinds to keep out the driving rain.
That evening, Susie came down with a migraine, so our plans to go out were scuttled. We decided to stay in and enjoy the views and the quiet and the mosquito-free breeze that blew in through the windows from the sea. 14 floors up, the street noise was a distant murmur.
This was the beginning of what would turn out to be an enjoyable stay in a part of Havana that we were keen to explore further.