Chuck Allen’s Cuban Adventure – Day 3

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God I miss coffee but I’m determined not to drink any water unless it comes from a plastic bottle. Only one of 12 in our group felt a little queasy. They warned us about the water. Only half the water piped into Havana makes it into the city. The infrastructure is a mess. It was another day of fruit for breakfast.

The big event for today was renting three vintage state owned taxis. A 1951 Chevy, a 1957 Chevy and a 1959 Chevy. They were beautiful on the outside downright disgusting on the inside. We checked out the engines or what substituted as engines. These vintage cars are now part of the Cuban Culture. They’re everywhere and I took plenty of pictures to prove it. They’re also on the side of the road disabled waiting for someone to glue it together.  The highways are well maintained and there’s hardly any traffic. As far as Planes and Trains, never saw one in the air or on the ground.

First destination: Afro Cuban Museum. We passed by a lot of Soviet built apartment buildings that were in terrible shape. Some of the worst living conditions I’ve ever seen but they say the interior of Cuban homes are very neat and well maintained. There’s some trepidation on the part of Cubans not to bring attention to where they live as they don’t want to receive a visit from their local constable inquiring as to where they got the money to make improvements to the outside of their homes.

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The intimate museum was on the outskirts of Havana about 45 minutes from the Hotel and displayed relics mostly from the western part of Africa which had a great influence on Cuban music and religious history. My mother warned me about this but as I was trying to take some pictures I tripped over a large vase with enormous religious significance. I managed to grab the vase but the lid crashed to the floor and broke in about 10 pieces. A Cuban woman in the room, solemnly picked up the pieces, put them together on the floor and placed the damaged lid on top of the vase without saying a word. I was mortified. I didn’t know if they were going to arrest me or tell me ‘you break it it’s yours.’ I tried to explain in English how sorry I was for breaking the lid and disturbing the Gods, which by the way had been very content for several hundred years until I came along but it wasn’t until I got my interpreter involved to translate that the curator told me not to worry that accidents happen. I split for the car before she changed her mind. I also left some bubble gum on the table. Big League Chew. I didn’t pack Super Glue.

Next stop: Jose Marti Memorial. I was encouraged to stay in the car. Plaza de la Revolution was next and finally John Lennon Park. Fidel loves John Lennon. First he hated the Beatles but then warmed up to the political philosophies of John. So there is a park and a stature and a place where glasses are installed every day and removed at night by the John Lennon guard. Perfect.

The Plaza de la Revolution consists of a few government buildings and a huge parking lot which Fidel used weekly until recently to hold demonstrations. They don’t do that anymore because of the expense.

Back at the hotel, it was my turn to jam with the local Florida Hotel band. Cool. Then it was off to dinner at la Bodeguita del Medio and more music. Next trip to Cuba I’m taking guitar strings. Some of their strings haven’t been changed in years and my fingers are feeling the pain.

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