Monday, April 3, 2017

Our Man in Havana 10: Nuevo Vedado

1950s flying saucer petrol station
The modern suburb west of Habana Centro is known as Nuevo Vedado. We stayed in a Casas Particulares, meaning a house in which the owner rents rooms to tourists. The one we were in was really nice, of modern 1950s modernist architecture with huge glass walls, It resembled a merging of a Mies van der Rohe glass house and one of Joseph Eichler's "California Modern" homes. In contrast to our challenging Park View Hotel downtown, we had immaculate modern US bathroom fixtures, hot water, clean towels, and excellent food. There were framed photographs of musicians and artists, who gather at the house.
There was even a hair service! Disadvantage: the house was a long way from downtown and we needed to use taxis.
As in downtown, there was a dearth of stores, at least on USA or European standards. I saw a pharmacy and a few restaurants, including the pollo snack bar on 26 Calle in the photograph above. I don't know if this was an example of the small-scale private industry that is now allowed now in Cuba, but it was busy.
Some of the apartment blocks reminded me of ones in Rangoon: lots of mildew creeping over the facade. I assume these were pre-revolution, meaning pre-1959. Despite some decay, this is a nice area. One taxi driver pointed out a house to us and said it is where Fulgencio Batista Zaldívar (the U.S.-backed dictator from 1952 - 1959) lived.
The playground on 41 Calle was pretty rough.

Dear Readers, we are done with our short tour of Havana and will proceed to other parts of Cuba. Stay tuned...

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