(Day 1 - 4)
22.11.2009 - 26.11.2009 32 °C
We’ve arrived safe and sound after 42 hours of travelling (including transit) from Mauritius via London via Madrid, It’s very hot and humid but sure beats being stuck in the UK winter.
Havana has fascinated us both. We’re staying in a Casa Particulares (a private house) in Habana Vieja, the old part of town, which is much cheaper than staying at a hotel and much more typical.
Every corner in the city has a different sight, either large colonial buildings with wonderful architecture or dilapidated houses with large wooden doors or a minute school overflowing onto the streets. Its so strange seeing how run down the city is. Public parks are un-kept buildings and shops dark and dirty. Then again strangely you feel nothing but safe and at ease here; the people are so nice and happy that it makes it all seem ok and that it couldn’t possibly be any other way. Also the streets are so busy all day, one wonders if anyone actually does any work.
At night, live Cuban salsa is heard playing at restaurants and homes alike which adds a great vibe. The people, although friendly, don’t really speak English so Steph has been thrown into the deep end as she last spoken Spanish 10 years ago.
On our 2nd day we took a very interesting tour through one of Cuba’s oldest and largest cigar factory (Fábrica de Tobacos Partagás) which employs 700 workers spread across the separate production rooms – drying, sorting, rolling and boxing. There is even a cigar school, where after a 9 month course, those who graduate will move on to become expert workers and will make on average 100 cigars a day.
During the workers’ 8 hour shifts they are read to, from a newspaper in the mornings and a book in the afternoons (following an old tradition) and get given 3 cigars to take home at the end of each day. For the connoisseurs, some of the few brands made here are Cohiba, Romeo & Julieta, MonteCristo etc
Tomorrow we leave for the western part of the country, to Vinales, by bus and spend several days there exploring.