Saturday, December 24, 2016
Christmas Eve in Havana, Cuba
It is 11 pm, I have just spent the evening walking from our Centro Havana apartment to the old city, La Habana Vieja. Geoff and I walked down to the malecón and into the central part of the historic city. There are tourists and Cubans everywhere. We had a good supper in a small restaurant and then walked some more.
I realized that I had not seen much of the city at night the last time I was here alone. For a woman alone, walking the streets at night may not be dangerous in Havana, but it is certainly not comfortable, so I appreciated having male company.
Many buildings have been restored since the last time I was here. The Capitolio is almost finished; the ballet building (I need internet connection to tell you the exact title, but it named after Celia Alonso, the grande dame of ballet in Cuba.) is “estupendo”. Too bad we didn’t have a chance to visit it or attend a production.
There are musicians in many establishments. One can appreciate their music by standing not so discretely outside the door and windows, or sitting across the street on a bench or leaning against a building.
Walking back home through the narrow streets, music live and recorded filled every space. Every style and era mixing and competing with each other. In some houses, people were dancing; in others some serious drinking was the main activity. Men spilled out of the doorways talking, smoking, and imbibing beer and stronger alcoholic drinks. During the day, I had noticed many shops selling home-made rum from large drums.
Just now, I can hear a man and woman singing a kind of call and answer song, or a type of chanson a response though not the type we hear in French Canada. I think this a particular style particular to Cuba.
We stopped in one church around 10 pm. There were a few faithful in the pews. The church was decorated simply, and there was a large nativity scene on one side altar.
Many people wished us a Feliz Navidad. We returned their greeting, and I tipped more liberally than I might on a regular day.
Cuban people may not have much, but they certainly have not forgotten how to party.