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August 22, 2012
From journal Aqui no se rinde nadie
April 14, 2002
The eccentric steel building was constructed in the 1960 and looks like a reject from a bad sci-fi B-movie and is showing signs of it's age and neglect as rust threatens to consume the structure. It is a place that is very special to the people of Havana, but it's uncertain how long this place has left in it, business is booming with locals and tourists alike, the problem is a simple matter of supply. The U.S. blockade not only means that ice-cream can not be imported but animal feed is also in short supply, meaning Cuba's milk production continues to dwindle causing prices to rocket and ice-cream production to be put in peril.
The queues can be avoided by taking a seat at one of the open air areas around the main building which are reserved for dollar paying tourists, and the security guards will insist on directing you to one of these if you are a foreigner but this somewhat misses the point of the experience, and keeping your head down or bribing the guard will allow you to queue with the locals. I know only a Brit. would pay to queue but this is a fantastic way to mix with a wide strata of locals as the guard slowly let in small groups to sit at the communal four-seater tables.
The table service is courteous with uniformed staff delivering the days list of flavors, Strawberry and Chocolate is the traditional flavor, hence the title of Cuban director Tomas Gutierrez Alea's highly acclaimed movie Fres y Chocolate which featured the Coppelia heavily and played a record run just across the road at Cine Yara. The locally produced ice-cream comes in generously heaped bowls sprinkled with confectionery which makes for a very sweet combination, hardly surprising in a country famed for it's production of sugar, and one bowl is more than enough for most people although the locals wolf it down.
A bizarre piece of 60's architecture, a rare opportunity to mix with locals from all walks of life, excellent service, cheap prices and extraordinarily high-quality locally produced ice-cream, make sure that you pay it a visit before it closes it's door for the final time.
From journal Havana Ball
New York, New York
July 11, 2000
From journal Cuba