A Tribute to Havana

A City of Contrasts

Havana. The place where I’ll feel frustrated in one second and inspired in the next.

Havana. The place where I’ll feel unsafe and soon after get an urge to let go and let the salsa music from the street artists seduce me.

Havana. The city where people salute me with smiles, where the stores refuse to sell me their groceries and where old Chevrolets will take me for a ride that I’ll never forget.

Havana. The city where beautiful, colorful colonial houses are placed side by side old ruins and houses where I’m afraid that the balconies might come crashing down on me any minute.

Havana. The place where people gather around in groups on small hot spots just to get a little bit of internet and where Coco Cola is replaced by the national cola from Ciego Montero.

Havana. The city where I’m grateful just to get a table at a restaurant and where I’m forgetting what it is that I’ll get from the menu after having heard the sentence “no tenemos” for the third time.

The City Where History Comes Alive

Havana. The city where I feel history coming alive. I feel it along the famous malecón with the kissing couples and old run-down houses. I feel it at Hotel Nacional which hosted one of the history’s biggest mafia get-togethers disguised as a Frank Sinatra concert. I feel it in Old Havana’s streets with its old buildings, playing kids and curious tourists that mix with the local life. I feel it at Plaza de la Revolución where national heroes like Che and Castro look at me from big billboards with slogans like “Viva la revolución“, “Somos el pueblo” and “Hasta la victoria siempre”. I feel it in Miramar where the old hotel Copacabana and the now abandoned amusement parks tell the story of a time where rich Americans would come here to have a good time.

The City Where Noise is Tolerated

Havana. Standing on the terrace of my casa particular I can hear the music playing from 3 different locations. Some people are singing while others are playing dominos around small tables in the street. I see people dancing while cars are trying to make their way through the dancing people without getting annoyed. Here there’s a tolerance for noise and an acceptance that it’s okay and perfectly natural that life takes up space. The feeling of being alive sneaks in upon me.

The City That Seduces Me

Havana. For every second that passes, I get to love the city a little more and I let go and let it seduce me. I let myself be seduced both by the city and the Cubans. For the first time in a long time, I feel alive and once again I’m reminded why Latin America will forever have a special place in my heart.

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