Flashes of Old Havana I (Video)

By Irina Pino

HAVANA TIMES  – With its eclectic architecture, the oldest part of the city invites visitors and locals to walk through it, fall in love with it. No eyes are distracted, no feet rest. Not addressing its legacy would be futile.

Tourists and Cuban citizens enjoy walking down its streets, stunned by Havana’s Cathedral, a church of great wealth and history where its God and saints are worshipped with real faith by the devout, while visitors take photos of its sacred representations to capture this beauty as a souvenir.

Street artists set themselves up on street corners to sell their paintings of ‘50s cars that tourists love so much. Popular fairs crowd every corner with items that follow a certain aesthetic.

There is a group of places that have their own magic: La Casa de Asia, with its park in the middle, which is green all year round; the Mercado de Oriente, which is full of incense, oils, soaps and essential oils, objects, tea bags…, which transport us to a distant India; the Marco Polo spice store; La Plaza Vieja and its enclosed fountain, where pigeons drink and cool down; the Fototeca de Cuba, a place with interesting photographic exhibitions; The Planetarium, which is very busy now with children and their parents in July and August because of the summer holidays.

You can’t miss out a visit to the Hotel Ambos Mundos. Ernest Hemingway had a room booked there. In the lobby, there is an entire wall with photos of the US writer posing with celebrities such as actor Errol Flynn and his last wife.

Obispo Street is witness to the comings and goings of people. It’s a street that sleeps very little. It isn’t a quiet street.

Everywhere in Old Havana holds a promise to surely return.

9 thoughts on “Flashes of Old Havana I (Video)

  • Obviously, the thought that opportunity for Cubans to flee from repression to freedom was reduced gave you deep satisfaction. Such a typical example of your boasted “neutral’ views! The PCC ought to hold a lunch for you as a guest speaker!

  • I do not indulge in “tricks” Nick. Mine was a factual statement as I personally know three adults who took enormous risk to flee Cuba and who having gained their US citizenship were able to return to visit their families in our community. I also know families of Cuban origin now resident elsewhere. You say repeatedly that I am “spouting rhetoric”, because you are unable to deny or even discuss fact.
    If you cannot observe the difference between the beauty of Habana Vieja and the squalor of other parts of Havana, then you are suffering from willful blindness.
    Inevitably you endeavor to divert discussion away from the repression and incompetence of the Castro communist regime by introducing a bunch of red herrings. But such is your habitual custom.
    Speaking of Haitians, they do not now flee from Haiti to the US, but FROM the US – some 20,000 now.
    Finally in response to your question and apparent experience, no Nick I have not and would not sit down to “have a beer with a people trafficker”. I choose with whom I socialize and obviously so do you..

  • I don’t think there is any fundamental problem in criticising this policy whatsoever.
    Neither did President Obama.
    He criticised it deeply. Then he put an stop to it.
    President Obama understood perfectly that the issue of folks from the poorer parts of risking their lives to get to the wealthier parts of the world is absolutely in no way specific to Cuba.
    The allure of the USA and Europe is deeply appealing to those from the poorer parts of the world. President Obama most certainly understands the extremely serious issue of global inequality.

  • Nick, you obviously fail to understand the fundamental problem in criticizing the US for its long-standing Wet foot/dry foot Immigration policy. If Cubans weren’t so desperate to leave Cuba in the first place, the allure of instant residency would not have been appealing. If anything, the Castros benefited from the “pressure cooker” release valve this policy provided their regime. Imagine if these disgruntled Cubans had been forced to remain in Cuba? Would these people who instead oftentimes chose to risk their lives to escape Castro tyranny been so willing to peacefully live under Castro rule as those who remained in Cuba? We will never know what would have happened. But we do know that their remittances sent from the US has sustained the Cuban economy for many years.

  • If you wish to refute what I say, then do so.
    But to refute what someone says one should first address what they have said and then present a logical counter argument.
    You do neither Mr MacD.
    You just spout rhetoric and make lame presumption of moral high ground.
    And of course there is the usual trick:. ‘He should know some of those that took such action as I do’.
    Are you suggesting that I don’t Mr MacD?
    Have you ever met a Haitian that has carried out such a journey?
    Have you ever met an African who has tried to get to Europe in such a manner?
    Have you ever sat down and had a beer with a people trafficker Mr MacD?
    You like to put yourself across as such an expert but fail to even comprehend that this is an issue that occurrs throughout the world.
    All I’m getting from you on this Is a failure to actually address the issue and the usual use of any given issue as another opportunity to pour out political rhetoric.

  • It is typical of Nick’s “balanced” view that he holds the US responsible for “beckoning Cubans into the sea to risk their lives.”
    What evident nonsense! He should know some of those that took such action as I do – it might just introduce a touch of humility and a need to apologize to those who risked their lives and to recognize the sacrifice of those who died in their endeavors to find freedom. The culprits responsible for those deaths were the Cuban Communist totalitarian dictators – the brothers Castro, not the US Government. To quote Nick himself and in response:
    It is always a great shame that people try to strip these tragedies of the context within which they occur in order to make startlingly cheap political points.”

  • How bizarre that Mr MacD cannot appreciate anything or comment on anything without trying to squeeze in some politically biased swipe.
    Just to put this latest biased MacD remark into some kind of logic-based context:
    All over the world people die in their attempts to get from the poorer parts to the wealthier parts. It is a tragic testament to the world’s inequalities.
    Historically, the saga of people trying to get from Cuba to the USA has a crucial difference to most of these cases. All over the world the richer countries formulate policies aimed at discouraging people from poorer countries setting out to reach their shores in this dangerous way.
    The USA had in place for a long period of time a politically motivated policy of beckoning Cubans into the sea to risk their lives.
    If people from places far worse off than Cuba reached the shores of the USA by this means, then they would be promptly sent back home.
    There have even been cases of non Cubans pretending to be Cubans in order to gain residence permits in the USA after having reached their shores in this way.
    President Obama recognised the inherent inhumanity of this policy and put a stop to it. His successor has a dangerous fetish regarding overturning all President Obama’s policy decisions.
    However, due to his general anti-immigrant stance, trump shows no sign of wishing to reverse this specific decision.
    It is always a great shame that people try to strip these tragedies of the context within which they occur in order to make startlingly cheap political points.

  • The beauty and history of Habana Vieja is unforgettable and admired by so many, but it represents Cuba’s past built hundreds of years prior to the revolution of 1959.
    To gain an impression of today’s Cuba, visit La Lisa in Havana, or better still, visit a typical non-tourist town like Candalaria in the Province of Artemisa, from which little more than two years ago some 35 young people got on a boat to try to get to Florida, ran out of fuel, then out of food, then out of water and then started to die one by one (a dozen) before the survivors eventually being found by the US Coastguard and returned to Cuba. The Havana Times reported that event.

  • Irina, thank you for creating this video of “flashes”~ it was very nostalgic to watch.
    You captures a lot of the popular spots, that I myself have stood in front of many times, makes my longing to return that much stronger.

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