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.

Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

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.

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