Old Havana on Valentine’s Day 2013

Photo feature by Daisy Valera

Plaza Vieja decked out for a Valentine's Day concert.
Plaza Vieja decked out for a Valentine’s Day concert.

HAVANA TIMES — February 14 is a day of transformation for the city. Old Havana is taken by storm with couples and families seeking to relax in the main plazas and side streets.

Although the change doesn’t affect the characteristic aspects of the area — with its book sellers, cartoonists or the stall selling oranges in Cathedral Square — this area of the city looks different on Valentine’s Day.

It’s not only because the principal state institutions have put up posters of two little birds and Fidel Castro for the 54th year of the revolution.

The entryway to the most expensive florist in Havana was filled (though a rose there cost over two US dollars and a bouquet over 20), the line grew longer and longer at the door of the chocolate museum, creameries such as El Naranjal — empty any other day of the year — were also packed, and street musicians were busy harassing tourists with love songs instead of the usual “La Guantanamera.”

But the place that transformed the most was undoubtedly Plaza Vieja, with more than half of it closed off and filled with tables with white table clothes and red bows. For the “modest” price of 33 USD per person (about twice the average monthly wage here), people could dine there last night and enjoy a concert with Ivette Cepeda.

A shot has been fired. The day was designed for consuming, and many Havanans responded to the call.

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