Wet, wet, wet
Woke up about 6 this morning to rain pouring on the window. When you are on the 21st floor and facing the sea, a storm can get pretty nasty pretty quick.
But nothing can stop intrepid voyagers, so off we went into the maelstrom. First off, the classic Havana visit: a cigar factory.
And right away, the classic Havana result: too much rain, the employees hadn’t been able to get in today. When a very common form of transportation is hitch-hiking, this isn’t really that unreasonable. It just doesn’t happen in Berkeley–our employees get to work rain or shine.
Well, what next? Let’s try the Museum of the Revolution. Housed in Batista’s former headquarters and office building, the museum is an homage to Fidel, Che and their compatriots who changed the face of Cuban history.
A series of poorly lit rooms in a mouldering building held photographs, artifacts and relics that told the story of revolution. It was fascinating, not least because of the constant vilification of the US. We are the big bad bogeyman around these parts, and don’t you ever forget it.
That was great, but we needed more to do. So we tried the H. Uppmann cigar factory, and this time we got lucky. It’s pretty much like all the photos you have seen–which is good, because they don’t allow cameras and I can’t show you anything. Hundreds of people working harder than I have seen people working in these parts, crank out millions of dollar of high-class cancer sticks. Much of it is more art than science–for instance, each box of ten is individually packed, with the cigars carefully picked and sorted by color, light to dark, left to right. They are selling a luxury good from a communist country, but I doubt they get the irony.
Lunch was in the seaside village where Ernest Hemingway’s favorite little restaurant/bar resides. We started with a decent little drink, the Don Georgio, named for the former proprietor of the joint. Rum and Blue Curacao and ice in the blender. It was good enough for me to have another–and when’s the last time you saw me have two drinks?
The food was good, too. Most of us had the paella, which is somewhat soupier than the Spanish version, but everyone seemed to truly enjoy it.
That would have been the day, but we decided to try seeing Hemingway’s house, in San Francisco, of all places. So we made the 20 minute drive, pulled up to the front door, and, sure enough, everyone had gone home because of the rain. That’s Cuba.
Tonight we go out for our final dinner, and we have invited our guide’s wife to join us. I don’t think there’s anything planned for the morning, then we have to be at the airport 3 hours early, naturally. We were supposed to be leaving early in the day and have a flight to SFO in the evening, but the hop from Havana has been re-scheduled (and always could be again), so we get to spend the night in Miami and come home on Wednesday. Most of us are suffering from Google withdrawal and are more interested in getting back to our cell phones than to Diet Coke, but it’s time to come home.