Please select your home edition
Edition
Zhik 2018 Dongfeng 728x90

Havana Cruising - The Mojito Coast

by SV Crystal Blues 17 May 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

2018 America's Cup Hall of Fame Inductions
Ceremony and dinner to be held at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes The Herreshoff Marine Museum / America's Cup Hall of Fame will induct John K. Marshall, Doug Peterson, Syd Fischer, and Ken McAlpine into the America's Cup Hall of Fame on August 31, 2018 at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, England. Posted today at 6:45 pm
420 World Championships day 4
Spanish teams hold four of top nine positions after today's tight racing Very tight racing at the top of all fleets on day four at the 420 World Championships. Heavy rain did not deter the competitors as they have proved they are here to race no matter what the weather. Posted today at 6:39 pm
Welsh breathes new fire in Extreme Sailing Series
Team looking to prove themselves as hot competition on home waters Crewed by a mixture of Welsh and English sailing talent, Team Wales boasts an array of racing accolades, from Olympic campaigns to European and World Championships, with many of the team having competed on Extreme Sailing Series circuit in recent years. Posted today at 3:57 pm
Team GBR in the 420 Worlds at Sail Newport day 4
Conditions remain challenging for the sailors Conditions remained highly challenging for both days 3 and 4. Day 3 was again sailed outside Newport Harbour, in 80 degrees and breezes varying between 5 and 10 knots which meant very few people managed to keep large numbers off their scorecards. Posted today at 3:51 pm
Ida Lewis Distance Race goes big on Friday
51 teams registered to compete in the 2018 edition With 51 teams registered to compete, the 2018 Ida Lewis Distance Race will create quite the spectacle of sail when it starts at 12:30 p.m. on Friday (August 17) between Fort Adams and Rose Island. Posted today at 1:01 pm
Plenty captures Farr 40 class in Verve Cup
Great precursor to the Worlds held at Chicago Yacht Club Leif Sigmond called it a "great precursor" to the Farr 40 World Championship, and that assessment seemed spot on. Posted today at 12:09 pm
Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race day 3
Battle in the Celtic Sea The cold front that brought tough conditions to the start of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race have now passed, with the fleet enjoying bright sunshine yesterday and a relatively calm second night at sea. Posted today at 11:47 am
Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image officially launched
Professional sailing photographers are invited to enter Started in 2010, this event is the world's premier photography competition dedicated to the sport of sailing, celebrating the very best yacht racing image taken during the year, and which best represents the essence and excitement of the sport. Posted today at 10:21 am
RS Aero Worlds at Weymouth & Portland overall
Big final day held in the shelter of the harbour The final day of the 206 boat RS Aero Worlds dawned with the likelihood of 30 knot gusts. Fortunately the final two races were scheduled within the relative shelter of Portland Harbour. Posted today at 4:49 am
Volvo Gill Optimist British Nationals overall
Emily Mueller wins the title in her last ever Optimist event! The Volvo Gill Optimist British National and Open Championships concluded at Plas Heli, Pwllheli, with overall victory for Bermuda's Christian Ebbin and the British championship win going to Emily Mueller. Posted on 13 Aug
Southern Spars - 100Sealegs - Be Amphibious 660x82-3WindBot-COACH-660x82