Sunday, 7 June 2015
On our last full day in Vedado we had our breakfast on the balcony in the main living area of Marte’s apartment and took in the spectacular views. We then spent the rest of the morning re-arranging our luggage so that we could transport Clare’s belongings home, and meet the weight restrictions on each of our three flights.
After we had accomplished as much as we could without a set of scales, we ventured out into the heat with a view to finding lunch. We found ourselves standing outside a large house near the corner of Avenida Los Presidentes and Calle 13. It appeared to be a paladar called Havana Meditteraneo. We hesitated and then entered, hoping for a table on the upstairs balcony. As luck would have it, there was a table waiting there for us.
Susie ordered the veal scallopini, which was outstanding, and I ordered a goat dish that featured slow-cooked goat that melted in my mouth. The house wine was so good we ordered another half litre. When we struck up a conversation with the waiter (who claimed to speak five different languages) we learned that it was a Chilean sauvignon blanc. We chatted with the waiter for a while and then relaxed into the afternoon. Despite the heat, the balcony was a delightful spot to while away a couple of hours. Susie rated this meal as the best that she’d had in Cuba.
After lunch we searched out a music venue nearby that was run by UNIAC. Unfortunately there was no music on Sunday so we returned to the casa. In the evening, we headed out on foot to the Jazz Café which is located in a drab shopping centre near the Malecón. When we arrived, there was a spectacular sunset so we took some photographs near the seawall in the dying light of day.
We shared a light meal of ordinary fare in the Jazz Café while a documentary about the Beatles screened inescapably overhead. We were soon rescued by some amazing Cuban music. The first band was led by a flamenco guitarist who was supported by the bass player we had seen a few nights earlier at La Zorra y El Cuervo. There was also a flautist, several percussionists, two singers, and a dancer. The performers displayed the flashy virtuosity and emotional intensity typical of Flamenco. The band leader was a Cuban guitarist who lived and worked in Spain, but had returned home for a spell. There were some members of his family in the audience including a frail, elderly father who was a wizened lookalike.
After the Flamenco band, a Cuban jazz band took the stage. The drummer had a deceptively easy style: he smiled and flicked his drumsticks nonchalantly while the most bewildering rhythms issued forth. The band featured three brass players who took turns soloing. We recognised some of the tunes. One was Caravan, a standard often played by Monsieur Camembert back home in Sydney.
As the second band started packing up, a DJ started playing loud canned music and some of the younger members of the audience took to the dance floor. We took this as our queue to set out again on foot through the streets of Vedado, back to the casa for our final night in the eyrie on the fourteenth floor.