Vedado is not the main tourist area in Havana. It’s the modern city, mainly for local people and isn’t as pretty as Havana Vieja. I intentionally chose it though over Centro or Vieja because I wanted a more local experience away from the tourists. It’s also where the good nightlife is located and I figure it’s easier to walk to Centro or Vieja in the day than it is to take a cab to and from Vedado in the night. Taxi drivers are notorious the world over for gouging tourists and Habana taxi drivers are a hard-assed bunch. It would be easier to talk down a hired assassin than to negotiate a reasonable price with one of them. The only downside of staying outside of the tourist zone is that choices for food are much more limited and harder to access. All I could find in my hood yesterday was this hole in the wall selling burgers, so that’s what I had for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Since then I’ve discovered a few other places with a bit more choice including this place which is open 24 hours.
The other thing that’s difficult to buy around here is large bottles of water. There’s beer and rum coming out of your ears, but no water. The other night I had to hot foot it over to the Centro and lug back three large 2 litre bottles. The plastic bag they were in broke on the way back… and one of the bottles fell into a drain. I managed to retrieve it but it meant that I had to carry three dirty two litre bottles in my arms while power walking home. It felt like one of those challenges they do on The Biggest Loser.
One thing that is really refreshing is that because there’s limited access to the internet, there’s also limited access to Facebook and Instagram. Some people have smartphones but still there isn’t the “smartphone culture” … You know, people with the screen of their smartphone permanently attached to their face. It’s by default rather than design and I’m sure most Cubans are frustrated by the lack of progress and don’t get the same kick out of it that I do. But it’s cool… People actually talk to each other and live real lives.
Finding out which clubs to go to the other night involved hanging out down by the Malecon and talking to the locals to get the information. It reminded me of what life used to be like before the world of internet and social media.