Please select your home edition
Edition
PandB 2019 Autumn Sale - Leaderboard

Havana Cruising - The Mojito Coast

by SV Crystal Blues 17 May 2018 07:38 PDT
Line Ém Up - Mass Mojito mixing every few minutes © Neil Langford, SV Crystal Blues

After the quiet dignity and charm of the Cuban south coast and cities, arriving in Havana is a shock to the system - specially the liver. This is a party town, where the bars mix Mojitos in bulk and rum is cheaper than mixers, so each glass carries a delicious kick.

We arrived in Havana at Hemingway Marina on April 27, and wisely resisted hitting the Old Town for a few days - rest and repairs took precedence initially. Of course getting to the city isn't simple - with the marina about 15 miles out of town, a fairly battered 1950s Chevy will cost 25 bucks each way. So after an initial day visit we decided to book a room in the Old Town and stay for a couple of days next time.

And so the fun began - Havana Old Town is a world class destination, with thousands of historic buildings, many now restored, and a lively culture that welcomes tourists. A non-profit foundation has managed the gradual restoration of the Old Town with great sensitivity. Its a huge area to manage, but the planning policies have given it a living breathing heart, ensuring that the local population are not displaced and that schools and community facilities are included in the development mix. So yes there are tourists (thousands of them) but there is also nearly half a million locals in the old city, so the visitor gets a "warts and all" education in pretty quick time.

Of course mixing the haves and have-nots occasionally creates predictable social challenges, however the Cuban people are not without pride and dignity, and they handle even the ugliest tourist behaviour with great patience. The financial differences between the citizens and the visitors are enormous - a school teacher in Cuba might earn US$40.00 per month, a doctor say US$80.00 per month. Many tourists spend that on drinks in a single day. But the real imbalance occurs when restaurant waiters earn, in a single day (and just in tips), the equivalent of a teachers monthly salary. How does that work? Yes, social change is coming, and its driven by tourism, which in turn is driven by the culture, music and history of the place.

Opposite our guesthouse, just minutes from the beautiful Plaza Vieja shown above, was a small store selling tourist nick nacks, cold drinks and local crafts. We spoke with the two sales staff, who on that day was a pleasant husband and wife team with excellent English skills - they were both University Professors, and she had a Doctorate in Mathematics, yet in one day selling stuff to tourists they earned more than their monthly government stipend. Something has to give.

Despite the rampant inequalities between the base level Cuban worker and the growing middle class, people are happy. They all have a decent education, they all have access to above average health care. Basic food stuffs and consumables are price controlled by the government so that every one can eat - just not in the new restaurants.

Havana is not to be missed - staggeringly beautiful buildings and plazas, amazing culture, food and drink that was frankly much better than expected and a musical culture that is without par. And it is the Mojito capital of the world.

This article has been provided by the courtesy of svcrystalblues.blogspot.com

Related Articles

Globe40: Start venue Tangier
A round the world race setting sail from African soil for the first time Upon its launch back in June 2019, the Globe40 was very open and bold about its ambition and its values: a circumnavigation of the globe, which is as much about a planetary voyage, personal fulfilment and a quest for self-discovery Posted today at 8:44 am
18ft Skiff NSW Championship Race 3
Winning Group went into today's race on Sydney Harbour as a hot favourite After two outstanding wins in the first two races of the NSW 18ft Skiff Championship, Winning Group went into today's Race 3 on Sydney Harbour as a hot favourite to extend her lead in the championship Posted today at 7:31 am
Star Sailors League Finals overall
Best of the conditions reserved for the four boat final After an ultra-light wind Quarter and Semi-Finals, the wind on the Nassau's Montagu Bay finally filled in to provide the best conditions for the four boat finale to the 2019 SSL Finals, the event that seeks to determine the 'star of the sailing world'. Posted today at 7:00 am
Day 1 Classic Sydney Hobart Yacht Regatta
Divisions 1 and 2 of the CYCA Classic Sydney Hobart Yacht Regatta ventured down the Harbour Divisions One and Two of the CYCA Classic Sydney Hobart Yacht Regatta ventured down the Harbour on a pursuit race to the Manly West and Manly East turning marks today... Posted on 7 Dec
Kiwi 49ers chasing medals on the final day
Burling and Tuke move to top of leaderboard ahead of final day at Hyundai Worlds It's taken all week for Peter Burling and Blair Tuke to get there but they find themselves exactly where they want to be heading into the final day of the Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 world championships in Auckland. Posted on 7 Dec
RORC Transatlantic Race - Day 14 update
Dark Shadow shines in Grenada French Wally 100 Dark Shadow finished the 2019 RORC Transatlantic Race in an elapsed time of 13 days 9 hours 11 mins and 3 secs. Dark Shadow was sailed by Andre Auberton-Herve (FRA) and skippered by Yerin Hobson (AUS). Posted on 7 Dec
Macif and Actual Leader complete Brest Atlantiques
François Gabart and Gwénolé Gahinet take second place MACIF crossed the finish line on Saturday at 07:43:50, two days, 21 hours, 19 minutes and four seconds after the winner, Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, having covered 17,890 miles at an average speed of 23.4 knots. Posted on 7 Dec
Hempel Worlds: New Doublehanded Offshore event
Mixed two-person offshore keelboat event will be on the program at the Paris 2024 Olympics For the first time in Olympic history, a Mixed Two-Person Offshore Keelboat event will be on the program at the Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing Competition. Posted on 7 Dec
The Clipper Race Leg 3 - Race 4, Day 20
Day 20 has thrown the fleet a mixed bag of conditions The competition is hotting up for the front-runners, who have been stumped by windhole shaped obstacles to tackle in the final stages of the race. Posted on 7 Dec
Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 Worlds day 5
49er and 49erFX both saw new regatta leaders heading into the final day The breeze was a little softer than previous days, and at times extremely unpredictable and shifty. Yet somehow the class acts continue to prove that they're still the class acts, able to cope with any slings or arrows that are hurled their way... Posted on 7 Dec
Marine Resources 2019 - FooterZhik ATR Aroshell SW FOOTERMelges IC37 2019 Footer