Walking with My Nephew on Saturday in Old Havana

By Nike

Cafe Habana
The Havana Cafe

HAVANA TIMES — On Saturday, I took my nephew out for a walk in Old Havana. We were thinking of seeing some museums but they were all closed. It was 1pm in the afternoon. The only place we could go to was the Mambi Presidential train museum and we had a really friendly girl as guide.

Afterwards, looking for somewhere to eat, we arrived at the Havana Cafe found on the corner of Mercaderes and Amargura Streets. It was opened in the ‘90s for ordinary Cubans, so we would have somewhere to go and eat and have a good cup of coffee paying in Cuban pesos.

All kinds of people used to go there: it was a meeting point for those who used to go the classical music concerts at the San Francisco de Assis Basilica, it was also where workers in Old Havana used to go and have coffee after lunch and neighbors of the Cafe were regular customers. Cubans are coffee-lovers by tradition.

It had recently been closed for maintenance works. This was my first visit back since it had reopened. It’d been fixed up real nice with iron and wooden seats which fitted in well with the bar and tables. I really liked the light fixtures too, congratulations to the designer. But what a surprise! Nobody was eating or drinking coffee there. I was insulted when I took a look at the menu. Everything was priced in CUC (the equivalent of USD).

We ended up in the park.
We ended up in the park.

To give you some kind of idea of what I’m talking about, here are some of the prices that I still remember: a fried egg with chips used to cost 8 regular Cuban pesos, soup was 3.50 pesos and coffee, like I told you it was really good, used to cost 90 cents of a Cuban peso for a cup.

Now, just to tell you how much the coffee’s gone up, a cup now costs 75 cents of CUC, which translated into Cuban pesos is 18 pesos. My nephew and I were deeply saddened.

These are the kinds of things that I don’t like happening in our country. Don’t we Cubans have the right to sit down at a table in a pleasant space and eat or have a good cup of coffee at a reasonable price that fits with what we earn?

We ended up sitting in one of Havana’s parks and eating pizzas from a privately-owned cafe.

The next day, because my nephew still wanted to eat fried eggs, I went to the agromarket in my town and as they had native corn flour, I bought two pounds worth and I was especially lucky that day because I walked past a house that was selling breadfruit. This is a strange fruit, Cuban farmers always have a breadfruit tree in their homes and when they move or are going to buy a house, if it doesn’t have a breadfruit tree, they don’t want it. This is because this tree feeds both the family and animals in that household.  Here are some photos of the delicious lunch I cooked for my nephew. I was very happy.

The lunch I made for my nephew on Sunday.
The lunch I made for my nephew on Sunday.

Let me tell you how I prepared the breadfruit. I fried it this time, but you can boil it too.

You peel it and then chop it into small squares. You then fry it for a short while, you take it out and mash it as if it were a banana and then you fry it again in hot oil.

You have to cook the flour on low heat always stirring it for about 15 to 20 minutes. At the end, you add a tiny bit of salt.

When all of this is ready, you fry the eggs with a small amount of tomato puree. Our Sunday lunch, do you want some?

 

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15 thoughts on “Walking with My Nephew on Saturday in Old Havana

  • I would argue that it is not free markets which endanger democracy in the West, but a growing authoritarian alliance between political parties, corporations and big unions which are moving our countries toward oligarchic monopolies. The West could benefit from a return to freer markets and away from the over-regulated societies that have developed over the past 50 years.

  • Oh, that free market economy, which has led to most of the world living the lie that it can afford to keep topping up the fortunes of the super-rich while sitting on trillions of dollars of debt that can never be repaid.
    If you equate poverty with a lack of TVs and computers, Cuba’s poor. If you measure it by the hopeless and homeless on the streets, the ‘developed economies’ beat Cuba by a country mile.
    I wouldn’t argue that there must be change in Cuba, but heaven help them if they engage in the same free market economics which are busy destroying democracy. We think we vote for the people we want, but all we have to choose from are politicians who only promote policies which make their friends richer, while waiting for their chance themselves to hop aboard and live like kings.

  • It was shorthand for the division of products into those for locals and those for visitors; I know of nowhere else this happens.

  • The concept that “Cuba is doing better everyday” is a myth. My home is in Cuba and there has been no improvement in the daily lives of Cubans at all. Cubans need all the good luck they can get but nothing will improve under communist rule the declared purpose of which – as declared by ‘Che’ Guevara is to:
    “learn to think as a mass. to think as an individual is criminal.”

  • There is already a policy of price controls in Cuba and it has lead, as always, to shortages, pilfering and corruption.

    What Cuba needs is a free market economy, with one currency, free and independent labour unions, the right of all citizens to own private property, and a modern & transparent banking system.

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