Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Hemingway Experience: One Night in Havana

I suppose I should have guessed that everything would be closed on Sunday - especially the Sunday after Mayday. The entire barrio was silent for the most part. Fortunately, I found La Rana Dorado (The Golden Frog) for lunch. 

More ceviche - not as good as Esmeralda but passable nonetheless, and three microbeers, all brewed on site.  

Back to the studio for 3, and it was too hot (and I too buzzed) to do anything except nap for the rest of the afternoon. When I left to find dinner, most places were shuttered. Even Mojitos had a problem with their toilets the night before. Casco was a ghost town, and I took it as a sign. Just to the grocery store for provisions (cheese, pancetta and a 6 pack) and home for a Netflix night. I discovered that the wifi in param is not the same speed as I’m used to… but episodes of Trailer Park boys load just fine! That’s pretty much it for today, sorry my life isn’t exciting enough for you.


Monday I awoke, and decided - enough is enough.  I have to find some summer footwear. My black shoes just weren’t cutting it. I took a cab to the mall and remembered how little time I have for shopping. Bought a pair of Quicksilver sandals, and I’m determined to get sand under them before the end of the week. 

I’ve come into the habit of napping, and I can’t say I don’t enjoy it - a couple of hours in the afternoon when the sun is at its hottest, and I’m refreshed and ready to go for the evening. I’m also a lightweight in that respect - people here can party till 4 or 5 in the morning, something I have no interest in unfortunately. 

I went searching for a place for dinner - Platea jazz bar. Closed. Las Clementines - apparently non-existent. What the fuck? I did some serious research before I left and everywhere that seems interesting is either closed for slow season (or some other reason - is shoulder season a thing here?), or it eludes my grasp, which is odd given that the streets are a grid system. Then - just when I thought I knew this neighbourhood, it surprises me once again. Like a scene in a movie, new streets show themselves at night. Vieja Havana (photos at the end) looks like an old Cuban bar, complete with a cigar station, sad Cuban music:

and more varieties of rum than I know. I was the only one there for a time, which allowed me to start writing. Or would have, if my pen wasn’t a piece of shit. The ball had sand or something that didn’t allow a clean roll on the paper. I threw it out. 
Top paragraph: good pen. Bottom paragraph: devil spawn pen. I bet Hemingway didn't have to deal with this crap.

I had a couple of beers, then - only because it was a rum bar - a mojito. This thing came with a stick of sugar cane in lieu of sugar, my god! a great idea. Two Irish guys came in, older than me but not old - late 40s I’d guess, and I got to chatting with them. They invited me to dinner - I declined, determined to get ink to page. Over to Lunas Hostel, and the bar there (I’ve given up on finding out its name, but it appears to be Pips for some reason). There I borrowed a pen and wrote with a fury over tequila - that magical point for a writer where the pen moves as fast as it can in the hand and it’s still not fast enough. 2 or so pages of dialogue for the book, and a couple of hours later, and I was ready for home. I’m still aware of the late hour and walking on the outskirts of a slum, especially as a tourist so I made sure to stay in the lights, although it was another quiet evening in town.

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