Cuba, day 1: Imagine… the Night

From the diary:
“I’m so nicely boozed.
Drunk and happy, in Havana.
For the first time in a while I feel pleasantly boozed. And my head is light and dizzy, and my whole body relaxed. Maybe that’s why all these great people kept drinking. It helped them relax.

It never helped me relax, though; now is a pleasant exclusion. But at least I can state that in a day I tried both of Hemingway’s favorite Cuban drinks – mohito and daiquiri. I also tried local sangria and beer, but I didn’t really drink those. I had a good evening, first exchanging money (they don’t change rubles – such a bummer!) and then teaming up with two other Russians, Alex and Ksenia, the cutest couple ever, and we walked around the old Havana. It was very dark, almost no streetlights, with poor roads full of holes and broken cobblestone. Looked pretty sketchy, though we knew Havana was considered safe. A guy at one of the art stores gave us an address of some bar, and we walked there, went up to the second floor – and saw two SAS Chinese students with a local couchsurfer, whom we joined. The guy’s name was Jesus, and he was a local filmmaker – and gay. That brought up a conversation. 

We had an awesome meal ($6.50 for a huge plate with a drink, which still would be expensive for the locals) and then walked down the boulevard to the embankment. From there we wanted to go to the amphitheater, where the students from University of Havana were to perform songs from classical musicals; but we went the wrong way and had to return. On the wrong way we got splashed by a wave that went straight over the pier; the embankment was definitely poorly serving its purpose. It was a novelty, watching for the waves as you walk. People were looking at us as we walked by – we clearly looked foreign, and were followed by curious gazes. One of the fishermen told us to beware the waves, but we couldn’t understand what he was saying, and squealed when the water unexpectedly reached us. 
We got to the amphitheater the moment the show was over, which was sad; there we met some SASers and I walked along with Daniela, one of our German students. She was hungry, and on the way back to the ship we saw a cafe and went in. Unfortunately, the kitchen was already closed, and we just stayed to get a drink. The ship was glimmering in front of us in all its splendor. I wonder how weird it must be for the locals to see us there. The locals who still drive the Soviet cars from mid-seventies, who live in the houses with paint peeling off and cracks in the walls and that are slowly falling apart; with little comfort, very little – but they say, at least there are no homeless people in Cuba. 
Havana reminded me of Salvador, also a colonial town in its decadence, desperately needing money to bring it back to life. The US embargo definitely hurts Cuba a lot, and what’s the point of it? There are governments worse than Cuban for sure. I wonder how many tourists come here each year and what percent of the national economy do they bring in. 
I’m so sleepy. I guess I should go get some water and jump into bed. 
Will I make it to the blue-water beach tomorrow?
Who knows”.
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