About Joe

After previously blogging from Mersin, Turkey and Adelaide, South Australia I'm now based in Perth, Western Australia. This WordPress blog at joe.in usurps my previous Blogger-based blog which ran from October 2003 to April 2010 at taheny.com.

Eating and Drinking at El Shamuskia’o in Old Havana

Cuban moussaka and vegetable crepes

Cuban moussaka and vegetable crepes

In Old Havana (Habana Vieja) we came across a small restaurant and bar with the marketing nightmare of a name, El Shamuskia’o. Located on Muralla Street in between Habana and Compostela, El Shamuskia’o became a Havana favourite for Rocío and me, visiting four times.

Seafood along with pork and pineapple kebabs at El Shamuskia'o

Shellfish and pork and pineapple kebabs at El Shamuskia’o

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Eating Japanese at Crepe Sayu in Old Havana

Japanese flag outside Crepe Sayu

Japanese flag outside Crepe Sayu

Crepe Sayu is a small restaurant on the corner of Obrapía and Aguacate streets in Old Havana (Habana Vieja) run by Japanese journalist Sayuri Yoshida. Prior to visiting Cuba I read Sayuri’s fascinating story and looked forward to visiting Crepe Sayu. Having lived in Japan Rocío was also keen.

Miso soup and main course at Crepe Sayu

Miso soup and a main course at Crepe Sayu

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Stumbling Upon Enrique Iglesias’ Old Havana Video Shoot

I grew up with Julio Iglesias’ music in the family home. His third child Enrique is now a mega famous singer himself.

Subeme La Radio ft. Descemer Bueno, Zion & Lennox video shoot

Video production people milling around on Cárdenas Street, Old Havana

Returning from Soroa, Rocío and I were walking to our accommodation in Old Havana (Habana Vieja) when we arrived to a closed road. On Cárdenas Street people and film production equipment surrounded its notable art nouveau houses.

Sign on van supporting Subeme La Radio video production

Sign on a production van parked on a side street; the Liverpool production was in association with Ogilvy, Oxígeno, TV Casa Productora and Island Film

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Russia’s Constructivist Havana Embassy

The Russian Embassy looking out over its surrounds

The Russian Embassy looking out over its surrounds

Opened by the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s, the stark Russian Embassy dominates its patch of Miramar, the residential and diplomatic district west of central Havana. Likened to a sword or syringe, the tower reminds me of an unpainted and unfinished Transformers machine. Continue reading

Antonio Núñez Jiménez and the Fundación de la Naturaleza y el Hombre Museum and Library

Fundación de la Naturaleza y el Hombre

The front of the Fundación de la Naturaleza y el Hombre museum and library

The front of the Fundación de la Naturaleza y el Hombre museum and library

Two blocks from the constructivist Russian Embassy in Havana’s Miramar district, an unimposing building houses the Fundación de la Naturaleza y el Hombre (Foundation for Nature and Humanity) museum and library. Continue reading

Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Havana, Cuba

New Year’s Eve in Havana is traditionally not a major public celebration. Locals usually stay at home with their family eating roast pork and yucca before throwing buckets of water over their balconies onto the streets below. On this evening many tourists end up at overpriced dinners and shows.

The Old Havana (Habana Vieja) late afternoon streets contained suckling pigs either dressed waiting on a spit or already roasting over coals.

Suckling pig on spit balanced against a Havana wall

Suckling pig on spit balanced against a Havana wall

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Artist Ares’ CUBA POSTCASTRO Cartoon

Two days after Fidel Castro died, Granma, Cuba’s biggest newspaper fronted with a full-page cartoon by “ares” featuring many Fidel Castros and headed Cuba es Fidel (Cuba is Fidel).

Ares CUBA POSTCASTRO Cuba es Fidel Granma newspaper cover

Ares’ CUBA POSTCASTRO cartoon used for the “Cuba es Fidel” Granma newspaper cover two days after Castro’s death

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Rebellious Mojitos at a Havana Reggae Bar

After the shooting gallery, Rocío and I came across a bar operating. A functioning bar is usually inconspicuous in touristy Old Havana (Havana Vieja). However, after Fidel Castro’s death all alcohol sales and entertainment officially stopped for 9 days and this was the only disobedient venue seen.

Enjoying a prohibited drink at the reggae bar

Enjoying a prohibited drink at the reggae bar gets Bob Marley’s approval

The small bar’s stereo played but not blasted and strong 2 for 1 mojitos cost 3 CUC (US$3). The NKOTB t-shirt-wearing manager’s view was that people should be able to mourn Fidel Castro’s passing how they liked. If they wanted to remember Fidel by playing music, they should be able to play music. He also gave us a different Fidel’s CD: Fuego Caliente by Argentinean reggae artist Fidel Nadal.

In the rear kitchen an empty burner kept flaming and I would not be surprised if communist Cuba provided free gas but not matches.

The Fuego Caliente 'Fidel' CD the bar manager gave us

Fidel Nadal’s ‘Fuego Caliente’ CD the bar manager gave us; through the back door is a stove burning gas for no apparent reason

A Japanese tourist and her jinetero were the bar’s only other guests and we all joined in conversation, enjoying the bar’s rebellious spirit.

Thankfully, the mojitos came after the shooting practice and not beforehand!