Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cuba: part 1

So, there's a photo everyone who goes to Cuba takes, but it's still good, so here it is.

Che, Plaza de la Revolucion, Havana

The mural's in Havana's Plaza de la Revolucion, which was baking hot, particularly on the huge mass of flat concrete which lies at its heart. You can walk into the middle of it and no one will follow you, and suddenly you're free from the jockeying of the jineteros. The guy on the mural is called Ernesto, who's a national hero because he smoked cigars, despite being asthamatic.

As a fellow sufferer, I tried to follow his lead. A few days earlier we got a guided tour of one of the city's biggest tobacco factories, in concurrent - actually, almost simultaneous - Spanish and English.

Tobacco factory, Havana

They make these rather unappetizing looking items -


- which, of course, look way better once you've stuck the label on and sparked one up.

A Cohiba

Back to the Plaza, though. Facing the Che mural is an enormous statue of poet, writer and campaigner for national independence José Martí, who was far uglier than Mr Guevara, but was at least Cuban. Sarah and I wanted to go to the top of his tower, but the lift was broken, or closed, or something. So it goes.

José Martí and his tower

Our host in Havana was Chris, and towards the end of the trip, wandering round the Necropolis Colón, the pair of us imagined a TV series involving the Cuban hero travelling through time, with Christopher Lloyd shouting, "Martíííííííí" a lot. But the project stalled when we realised not many Cubans will have seen the Back to the Future films, and not many Back to the Future fans will know who José Martí is. And then this rather unnerving sight made me think of other, darker film franchises.

Grave at the Necropolis de Colon, Havana

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