Havana: our final destination. We knew we were facing an interesting few days the minute we set foot on the plane; an old Soviet passenger plane with emergency signs in Russian and dry ice blasted into the cabin to leave an eiree low lying mist throughout the flight. When we landed, the plane burst into applause for their survival of the flight. It did have a few advantages despite the poor safety measures, namely an almost unlimited supply of rum the airline gave its terrified passengesrs.
Once in Havana, we took a taxi to our guesthouse, which was an old woman's apartment on the 14th floor of a building with amazing views all over Havana. We used the Casa Particular shceme, which allowed residents to let our beds in their apartments to a maximum of four tourists at a time. In a country where police often pick up Cubans who are seen talking to locals on the street, to allow other Cubans to accomidate tourists in their houses was one of many contradictions of the Castro government that we would soon discover.
We soon hit the bars to sample some of the many rum cocktails on offer and listen to some Cuban band that has a very teneous link to Buena Vista Social Club. The music may get repetitive after a while but the atmosphere of the bars with the rich aroma of cuban cigars seemed to delay our departure by a good hour or two most nights.
For the first time on this trip we though we should do something a bit more cultural; see some museums; for us the museums of rum, cigars and revolution. Seeing how quickly some of the workers in the cigar factory would roll consistently perfect cigars was amazing, though apparently this was one of the most sought after jobs in Havana, not for what they got paid a month, but for being able to take a few cigars home to sell to people on the street, earning vast amounts more than their measily wages. The Revolution museum was equally impressive, housed in what used to be the presidential palace of Cuba before the revolution. The information about its past use was given a slight Communist twist: the old dining hall was refered to something similar to ' the place where the Bourgeois would indulge in petty luxuries, oblivious to the starving masses in the nearby streets'. The museum also had many of the tanks and other weapons used the revolutionaries in their fight against imperialism. After gaining a passion for all things revolutionairy and anti-imperialistic, you walk through the museum shop full of overpriced Che memorabilia. Seems a bit off the mark really.