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St. Augustine, Florida
December 14, 2009
From journal A Week in Western Cuba: Havana & More
May 3, 2007
In a short walk, we were out of the hub of the tourist industry and were passing through the streets of "real Havana". At one point my wife felt "uncomfortable" but we carried on and at no point did we feel threatened or "at risk". There was plenty of evidence of the decaying fabric of city life and accommodation was poor and "compact". I’m not sure I would have wanted to be wandering these streets at night, but although it was unfamiliar territory and we, as passing visitors, were in the minority (we did pass another couple going in the opposite direction) and we did get the odd greeting from locals.
This was a much longer walk than we’d realized, but we finally arrived at the Plaza de la Revolucion having walked up the leafy avenues near to Havana’s university. It’s a vast, fairly uninspiring square of concrete but here you’ll see the two powerful monuments to Cuban’s heroes. Che’s visage, with his familiar starred beret, overlooks the whole square across to the more conventional monument celebrating the life of Jose Marti. Somehow, the basic and seemingly uncomplicated art installation to Che Guevara makes it so much more powerful with the sun’s ray casting a well-defined shadow on the "installations" back panel. Its stark simplicity pays absolute homage to this Cuban legend
The huge figure of Marti is a real contrast. A conventional, but modern sculpture, shows the seated Marti in pensive mode. The detail is minimalist but nevertheless quite sensational as this silent figure is dwarfed by a mighty obelisk.
We pottered around a bit, taking in the atmosphere, before approaching one the Coco-taxi drivers for a lift back into town. There’s no way that we could have walked the return journey and the ride back to Plaza de Armas proved exhilarating if not a little hairy in places. The driver un-unnervingly wore a crash helmet. You see, when you’re so low to the ground, the roar of a two-stroke engine seems to be suggestive of greater power, but in our heart of hearts we just knew how vulnerable we were in the back of this yellow fiberglass bubble. Great fun when we arrived safely at our destination!
From journal A day out in Havana
by alex b
Brooklyn, New York
September 3, 2002
From journal hidden havana