Wednesday, April 29, 2015

havana, cuba day 3

we started our third day in havana with another morning walk on the malecon. this morning, we went the opposite way and nearly walked the entire harbor and old havana. we walked through neighborhoods and really got a feel for the local vibes as people scurried off to work and school for the day.

the group delegation met with an archdiocese from the catholic church and also had a meeting at a jewish synagogue - meanwhile, mom and I headed to the university of havana instead since this wasn't on our itinerary but was an important stop for us as my mom is a professor. despite looming clouds, we hopped in a convertible taxi and headed to the university.... little did we know it was just the beginning of a wild [and very wet] day in havana!

walking the city streets, a pretty flower market in old havana

plants and roots growing from scaffolding on a facade, left neglected for years

havana streets are lined with delightfully mismatched dwellings and old, majestic cars

we hopped in this cab and blissfully headed to the university!

ok, it's starting to rain, but we'll make it - totally fine!

we jumped out of the cab for a few quick photos at the university and then headed to paladar atelier to meet up with the rest of the group for lunch. within a few miles of our destination, it began to downpour! mom and I grabbed our umbrellas to attempt some shelter in the back seat. the umbrellas provided little to no protection from the rain - our poor taxi driver was speeding down side roads, backing up, looking for the restaurant but couldn't find it since paladars tend to be located within residential areas.

needless to say, we finally arrived at the restaurant completely drenched, soaking wet, and 30 minutes early. the rest of the group arrived later, totally dry and of course, it had stopped raining by that time. at least we had a good story to tell!

so as I mentioned, I was obsessed with the table settings in cuban paladars. atelier was no exception - beautiful mismatched china with bright green glassware really popped against a white tablecloth. we settled in, still sopping wet... I ordered cuban beer for the first time and wasn't disappointed.

the back patio of atelier, the irony is that coca-cola does not distribute to cuba due to the embargo...
after lunch, our group visited nostalgicars - a car garage and restoration shop for the beautiful american chevys you see on the streets of havana.

thankfully, we got a quick break in between the car garage and our evening plans. luckily mom and I  were able to take a shower and dry off before embarking to the home of artist jose fuster and the home of the principal officer for the US interests section [under normal diplomatic relations, the title would read US ambassador].

the magical world of jose fuster - a mosaic paradise. fuster has made many artistic contributions to the local community by improving and beautifying the neighborhood.

after walking through the home of jose fuster, we visited the home of the principal officer for the US interests section to enjoy cocktails and conversations about relations between the US and cuba.

we definitely weren't expecting to see a door mat like this or drink mojitos with napkins imprinted with the US seal in cuba! however, we also noticed that the flag pole on the front lawn was void of its american flag.

we were greeted with passed appetizers including hummus and quiche and cocktails while waiting for the principal officer to join us. we wandered around his home and marveled at an impressive collection of coffee table books and memorabilia. 

we listened to the "ambassador" discuss the current state of affairs and the outlook for the future between the US and cuba and were able to ask questions. I think our group could've spent all evening asking questions and absorbing information, it was a fascinating conversation and an extremely unique experience - one of my favorites of the trip. after our discussion, we all headed to the lawn to explore the grounds and take a group photo. it was such a gorgeous day.

click here to continue reading day 4, when we trekked out to beautiful trinidad...

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