By IRINA ECHARRY – Photos by CARIDAD
HAVANA TIMES, Feb. 3 – Anybody who’s visited China, or enjoyed photographs or movies about the architecture of that country, would think they were entering a studio where a poorly set film is being made.
But no, it’s Havana Chinatown, located in the downtown municipality of Centro Habana, where the best of traditions are kept alive by the immigrants who came to Cuba seeking fortune.
Warmth was the reward for those traveling so many miles, and that wasn’t missing on this island. Today the streets of the district are often full of people who love fried rice and sweet and sour Chinese dumplings.
What’s most interesting is that, in a relatively small area, this neighborhood breathes a very intense life. There are the different Chinese societies, restaurants, and schools to learn the language or martial arts.
There are teahouses where lectures are given on the different aspects of Chinese culture, places that sell traditional medicine, a small local newspaper and above all, Havana residents and visitors seeking out a world that is very distant and at the same time so close.
On January 25 the Spring Festival was celebrated without taking into account that in this part of the world, we are still in winter. The festivities welcomed the Lunar New Year, which will last until February 10, 2010, and will be the Year of the Ox, with much prosperity, they say.
There were demonstrations of Wu Shu, Tai Chi Shuan, dances and some combat exercises in which teachers and students of all ages participated from the Cuban Wu Shu School.
Participants included small children, who presented Retoños de Bambu, (bamboo shoots), to the elderly who know the benefits of practicing these expressions of the thousand-year-old culture.
Visiting Havana’s Chinatown is like reading a chapter of the book about our historical and cultural roots.
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