Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Mar 07 2018

2/26: Havana

We took a bus to the neighborhood around Eric’s other place and wandered around taking photos in the alleys before a grabby Cuban man had us heading inside for some breakfast and to meet our guide for the day, a handsome, tall woman named Chaneti. After telling her where we’d been and what we’d seen, she led us out to the Malecón, where we walked along the seashore listening to her tell us stories of her childhood swimming in the abandoned swimming pools there. It was a beautiful day, the sky a brilliant azure and the sea a deep, calmer shade of blue. Before the revolution it had been quite luxurious, but people swam there up until the 90’s, when Cuba’s economy crashed after the fall of the Soviet Union meant that funding from that country dried up, and the government banned all sorts of things, including seaside activities, rather than trying to regulate them. We walked over to the old district to a cigar shop located in a lovely old mansion to buy some cigars, because that’s apparently what one does here. It was hot, and I was beginning to feel tired even though it was early in the day. In addition to the usual 35mm lens I always use on my old Sony, I brought the big, not often-used 16-35mm f4, just to have it in case I needed it. I kept it on the camera during the day, switching to the prime at night, and while it is useful in crowded, narrow alleys with lots of people, it is a big, heavy mofo of a lens, and makes the setup not a little ungainly when wearing it all damn day. It’s smallest when at 35mm, so that’s usually where I kept it.

Our first attempt at lunch was thwarted by the lack of most of the items on the menu, but our second was successful and featured a house band that wasn’t bad, but mistook Chenbl’s request for “something traditional” for a desire to hear “Stand By Me”.

As we walked over to the harbor to take a bus, Chaneti talked about Cuba’s prospects and the gradual opening up that has been burgeoning since Obama’s historic visit. I felt a cold coming on, but for some reason I hoped that the hot sun would somehow prevent it. We got on a crowded bus that traveled via tunnel across the harbor and to a small seaside town where, Chaneti told us, the fisherman on whom Hemingway based his book The Old Man and the Sea had lived. Apparently they were friends. We walked out to the seaside, where a group of kids were practicing baseball. Out on the shore, an old man sat on the rocks, facing the ocean.

I was feeling poorly by the time we got back to Eric’s place for some very nice pesto noodles, and went to bed immediately.

posted by Poagao at 11:49 am  

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