Habana Vieja

The atmosphere of an old town which is falling apart, lots of people and a suspection of cholera

After a longer discussion the taxi driver takes us to the address of casa particular (contact from the last night). After an hour of waiting for the lady we get the most pink room which I’ve ever seen (much more than a Barbie house) and we go to explore streets of the old town.

The houses are quite high (3-6 floors) and most of them don’t have plaster. It is visible that they haven’t been repaired much during last 50 years, but anyway it has its charm. You can still see how it probably looked like here during its good times. There are many sellers in the streets who shout or sing what they have – “Hay aaaqua de coco, Hay paaan, Hay…”. Best are the ladies on the balcony – you whistle, they lower a basket on a line, you put there money and then they send you a bottle of rum. We go to Malecon – famous waterfront in Havana. The waves crash here at the walls and sometimes they splash a lot of water on the street (the best are driver with opened window … shower :D). At 7pm we meet Nadja again. She talks about the beautiful part between Vinales and Havana which was also our plan before I was tied to the toilet (at least we have a reason to come back). They smoke cigars with Jan and because I need to visit the toilet more often, we don’t stay long and go home.

In the morning we conclude that to have 7 days of diarrhea in row is not very healthy and we go to the nearest medical center. They sent us to a hospital for tourists (sure, one consultation 20CUC in country where the healthcare is for free – forget it!). We try another policlinic but it is the same. We return to the first center and I ask them again to examine me because I’m not able to get to the hospital without shiting in my pants on the way :). Then they agree and lead us to a special room. Doctor puts on a coat, gloves, weights me, measures blood pressure and asks a lot of questions. He explains us that there was one case of cholera couple weeks ago and now they need to do special tests to everybody who has diarrhea. I must drink a hydratation solution (I don’t understand, why it’s not made with some flavor, phooey!) and we move to another examine room – for patients from who it “flows”. There are two beds with holes (we saw similar ones in Haiti), bathroom and some tools. We don’t understand very well what the doctor is trying to explain us (all the conversation is in Spanish or a sign language) and then we get it – the small bottle I got is for a sample and Jan (now wearing also a green coat) should assist me to get it… this will be a real test of our relationship :D. After a half an hour I tell the doctor that in last days I don’t visit bathroom when I want, but when I need and now is not the moment. We take the bottle with us, he writes us recipe for antibiotics, hydratation solutions, orders me a strict diet and without paying a peso we leave 🙂

We look for a place to eat lunch (which isn’t easy with the diet restrictions) – I need to eat something so I can fill the bottle. Somehow we get to Chinese town and while we eat we meet a Chinese Lai Likun who has been travelling for 3 years around the worl on bicycle. He doesn’t have any money, he speaks only chinese (!) and he is dependent on help from people (either Chinese community and also others). If we understood well he tries to promote charity in this way.

We deliver the “packet” to the medical centre and in 5minutes they tell me the results – I don’t have cholera. We visit the square of revolution where on houses are big reliefs of Che and Fidel and as the sun shines they create an interesting shadows on the walls. Then we visit the hospital (the same one where they sent us in the morning). We are here to look for the son of Tania from Bahia Honda to give him our spare tire for her. After half an hour of looking in different departments we leave the package with a letter to his colleague. We ride in small streets in downtown and discover a great apple juice we drink the next three days.

Last two days in Cuba – time to say goodbye to our pigeons. We wash them in the morning, take photos and start looking for somebody who wants to buy them. After two unsuccessful tries in bicycle stores we go to Quatro caminos, which should be something like a centre of bicycle business in Havana. At the beginning a group of “amigos” join us – they are going to help us sell them (great, now we get lower price because of commision for these suckers). After 20minutes in the second store they agree on price 110CUC for both bicycles without saddles (they cannot understand why we want to keep those hard and unconfortable things). The people around try to convince us to sell the saddles for 10CUC but we just smile and refuse (we rather don’t tell them the price of one Brooks because they wouldn’t understand). Our amigo of course asks for some tip, but we tell him that we saw how he gets some money from the buyer. We hoped to sell the bikes for better price, but we are still satisfied. Since we’ve bought them, we made some adjustements (I bent my fork, the rear wheel makes strange sounds, Jan’s strangely gets lot of flat tires) so await that we will sell them for the same price would be naive. The expenses for using them are around 70CUC per month for one bike and that is perfect.

Our next walk in the centre is with a guidebook and by feet. We walk in crowded streets full of tourist where are lots of Cuban women in “traditional” clothes selling “traditional” dolls (it’s interesting that during our time here crossing the whole country we haven’t seen anything like this). Nearby is also a school of graphical design with an exhibition of many good works. We have to conclute, that the route which is advised in the guidbook shows different Havana. Repaired buildings, neat streets, shops, musicans … it is hard to believe that some time ago the whole city looked like that and sad to image that thousands of buildings are going to collaps soon.

We eat our “last dinner” in a restaurant which we got as advice from the Finns (we wouldn’t find it by ourselves). We write all promised postcards (around 10) and the same day we send them (a small reward for the hospitality of the locals). In the evening we want to see a night Havana. We sit in a park next to Capitolio. After more than 10 transvestite go around we realize we don’t fit to this place and after the ugliest and fattest one starts to talk to Jan we rather leave.

In the morning we are going to find a taxi which will take us to the airport for our last money (300pesos, our casa-lady wanted to call some friend for 30CUC!?). In 15minutes we sit in an old stylish Chevrolet ’53 and wait till some local guys stop to fight and clear the street. We get our luggage, stop to buy som juice and three hours before the flight we are at th airport. We pay 25CUC tourist tax for leaving the country, we pass all the security controls (they have again some problem with me), we buy the cheapest food and wait 2 more hours because there is a delay. But at the end the airplane takes off and we go towards new experiences in Mexico.

One Reply to “Habana Vieja”

  1. Krasne clanocky! Super zazitky!
    Drzim palce nech sa dari na cestach po juznej Amerike a nech pribudnu dalsie clanocky, aby som sa nemusel nudit v robote a virtualne cestovat s vami 😉

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