It had rained overnight- so we had great street reflections for our 6:15 dawn patrol. After returning to our hotel for a hearty breakfast buffet, we jumped into a 1950’s Chevy wagon. The driver was named Jorge, as also was our guide. So we cleverly named our driver “Jorge 2.” Jorge 2 lived in the same building as our guide – and he was to be our chauffeur for the 2 days. His wagon comfortably (?) carried the 6 of us plus Arthur, Jorge, and Jorge 2.
With Jorge 2 at the wheel, we travelled to another part of town where there was not so much poverty as Old Havana. Clearly, what was once a classy part of town was decaying. The residents of the once beautiful homes on the outskirts of Old Havana, although immaculate, have struggled to repair and keep up with the age-related decay of the simply magnificent mansions. The lack of upkeep and apparent decay is a result of no disposable income and lack of materials necessary to maintain these elegant homes. As we were to see numerous times, the Cubans have, out of necessity, become ingenious at
finding a way to get things to work. Señor Miguel Alonso and his wife were friends of Jorge and they graciously let our group into their home. It was very clean, but just “tired.” Truly at one time it had been magnificent. I included more pictures than usual in the Postcardtab that show various rooms of the house. I was amazed by the ‘50’s style kitchen- today in the USA, people pay a lot of money to designers to create the same look.
We then went to Callejon de Hamel. Frankly, I am not sure what this place is. All I know that every ten feet we were hustled by someone to buy a CD of their music.
In the evening we gathered at a meeting room in an adjacent hotel where 15-20 local Cuban artists were displaying their photos. We ended up buying two from our guide, Jorge Gavilondo that were taken at places that we had seen while travelling the streets with him.
SIDE-NOTE: MEALS. As previously mentioned, we had a huge breakfast daily from our hotel’s buffet. At lunchtime, we simply ate lunches where we were. Nothing terribly exciting except for our last day lunch at Paladar Dona Eutimia, a very good small and intimate paladar in the Chorro de Zanja, small dead-end street off Plaza de Catedral. Of the seven dinners we ate, four were eaten within the Parque Central Hotel (2 at the roof top pool/bar and two in the lobby bar). We found that we were tired after our 6AM wakeup- and I had to clear both Gretchen’s and my daily photos off our camera’s onto the laptop’s hard drive- and we had only one laptop. We did eat outside the hotel three times: the first two with our friends, the Coles (an average meal at Prado y Neptuno, and a great meal at a restaurant around corner on the third floor called el Gijones). The last outside dinner was the last night with all three groups combined at La Imprenta.