Salsa in Havana

So somehow we had saved two of the things we were looking forward to most to our last day, a drive around town and a salsa lesson.
First up was the salsa lesson and Piata had recommended a place she had been going to which was in one of Havana’s classic streets in central. We walked very slowly in the incredible heat there enjoying taking photos of all the classic cars and houses and eventually arrived at quite a cool little dance school.
It was full of girls I am sure re enacting their “Dirty Dancing” with a whole host of good looking young male salsa teachers. One girl had in fact just stepped off the plane and gone straight for a lesson!! Our hostess Mercy balked at the 12 cucs we were paying for our lesson but it had come recommended and we got an instructor each for our hour and were guaranteed progress. (For me any result would have been progress!)
The lesson turned out to be a lot of fun and we both felt as though we were getting the hang of it by the end thanks to some great instruction and patience from our teachers. Although we only had time to learn the basics we reckon we are ready for the dance floor and the lesson was great!!
The best was the setting as it was in this old building with mirrors on both walls and as we took a break to look out the window the view took us back in time. The only downside is the constant attempts to get money out of you and it was just assumed that we were carrying on for another hour but to be fair they took it pretty well when we stopped. Certainly some more practice required for us but we didn’t step on each other’s feet and Sarah will have to learn to follow my lead (apparently!)
It took us quite a while to cool down afterwards before we headed off to pick our classic car for our trip around the sights. We had decided that we wanted a convertible and set about finding one. It wasn’t going to be too difficult but on the way we got caught by the guy who had taken us on our tour the day before.
We tried to politely say no but he was pretty pushy and as we walked away he followed us and eventually I had to tell him that this was my last negotiation in Central America and I knew exactly what price I was paying and what I was going to get. Noses were a little out of joint but the chap driving the 1946 Ford Deluxe convertible found it amusing when we chose his car over the others and soon enough the music was blaring and we were driving around Havana.
It wasn’t the most informative tour but we were both grinning like idiots the whole time. There is something very very cool about those old cars. The main site we visited was the plaza de la Revolution which was an absolutely massive square well over 100m wide and maybe the same long, and completely empty. Two huge murals of Che and Camillo were on two of the buildings bordering the square. All the buildings in the area are involved in the national security of Cuba and el Jefe works in one of the palaces too.
It was the scene where Fidel has made some of his historic speeches and you could only imagine him working the huge crowd up into a fervour!!
The tour finished with us cruising down the Malecon and we were both very happy!! We stopped at the end to see a building site where our driver told us there was to be a new hotel built. The beginning of the end or the start of something better? Only time will tell but I have a feeling ours might be some of the last views of the Malecon in the slightly run down, brilliant state it’s in now.
For dinner we treated ourselves to some delicious food at the rooftop bar we found on the first night. It was a shame it wasn’t salsa dancing but to be fair we found the salsa pretty difficult to find so instead we embraced the new Cuba. To be fair for the standard of food and drinks the prices are pretty reasonable and the location just perfect.
Cuba we will be back and I hope the Cubans are strong enough to retain some of what we experienced on this trip. Fingers crossed. T

Dance lesson number 1, I think we both had a great time.

The view out of the dance studio window.

Our walk back to the casa.  It’s interesting to note how little traffic there is in any of these streets.

And now follows the choice of cars we had for our tour.  It wasn’t like we had to search them out they were all around town.

The one we chose, and Ford Deluxe 46.

Abraham, our guide, driver and the mechanic.  Not the owner though.  He is saving and saving to buy his own I hope he does.

Great fun cruising around Havana.

The Plaza de Revolution.  A very symbolic square in the centre, it would have been very impressive to have seen this full of people listening to one of Fidel’s speeches.

The view from the top of the plaza with the murals of Che and Camillo on the intelligence agency buildings.

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