During Rocío and my visit to Cuba we saw multiple old and modern artefacts from other communist or former communist countries. Considering Cuba’s post-revolution political alignment and the United States embargo this should not have been a surprise.
A tip for those visiting Cuba: at your guest house check under the china for its origin. With limited access to goods, Cubans often keep items for decades, including their stoneware. We noticed this at our first meal in Cuba with crockery made in Czechoslovakia, a European country last existing in 1992.
Crockery made in Czechoslovakia at our first Havana guest house
At Santiago de Cuba we used a porcelain coffee set produced in Bulgaria, most likely from its pre-1990 communist period. Continue reading →
For six decades the United States of America has imposed an embargo (el bloqueo in Spanish) on Cuba. Separated by less than 200 kilometres, this action by the world’s largest economy has heavily restricted Cuba’s commercial, economic and financial options. The embargo has also shaped modern Cuba’s uniqueness as a country and provided the totalitarian Cuban government with a convenient (and sometimes legitimate) bogeyman to blame. During our Cuba visit, Rocío and I saw several examples of anti-blockade propaganda.
Young Communist League (UJC) sticker on wall in Old Havana stating yo voto vs bloqueo (I vote against the embargo)
The Neo-Mudéjar Ursulinas Palace (Palacio de las Ursulinas) building in Old Havana (Habana Vieja)
To my untrained eye, Havana’s buildings were special. To architect Rocío’s, they were inspiring. Interesting buildings or aspects of buildings appeared around almost every corner and this blog post documents a tiny proportion of them. Continue reading →
The architectural styles, history and condition of Cuba’s buildings and objects, particularly in Havana, inspired architect Rocío. She loved the facades, iron work, cornices, balconies, tiles, door knockers, stairs and, especially, the doors. Continue reading →
Havana’s historical richness and post-revolution politics and economics have combined to provide an unprecedented amount and variety of buildings in original condition, including their wall and floor ceramics.
Following are some of many examples we saw of Havana’s old tiles:
Tourist couple in classic convertible hire car driving past El Capitolio
It maybe stereotypical but it’s true, Havana is full of classic United States cars from the 1950s and earlier. Historic economic and political anomalies led to Havana (and Cuba as a whole) being the best place in the world for such vehicles. Cubans can’t import auto-mobiles privately so they do everything they can to keep their old cars running.
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.
Shellfish and pork and pineapple kebabs at El Shamuskia’o
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.