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Snake eyes on the paradise

I lasted this long without dragging out the Dragon, and that is a sterling effort. And, for those of you unfamiliar, read up on the disfunction that was that band.

On the second day, after interesting Chinese and before interesting toilet, the four of us went to the nearest attraction of interest to the hotel, El Capitolio, the knock-off of the US Capital Building built in what the current government calls the 'yankee neo-colonial' period (and it's hard to fault that title; the yanks put boots on the ground three times between the revolutions. As the by-line for the forthcoming Red Dawn remake says, “They're here to help”). It's flasher than its northern counterpart and a bee's doodle taller, and houses five interesting things. Firstly, the National Academy of Sciences with its proper science library, i.e. wooden panels, two 10 metre high levels with a balcony, fancy sliding ladders, the works. Not 1970 asbestos beigeness. Second, bats, which refuse to be relocated and repaint the walls nightly. Third, the world's third-tallest indoor statue (after Abe in D.C. and the Great Buddha of Nara), La (spunky) Estatua de la República, a 15 metre tall gold-plated woman with the head of a Spaniard, the body of a Malata, and the attire and weapons of a Greek goddess. It what those chaps who like the 'Militia babes' calendars would be into, if they had any class. In fourth comes another statue, this time of Lucifer, which the fifth item of interest, our guide, kept repeating “is for the art, not the meaning... the art, not the meaning”. The guide, whose name is lost to the ages, was of interest because we hired him the next day to show us the old town and answer all of my feverish-minded questions.

After going to a castle our guidebook erroneously says houses Spanish treasure sunk in the Caribbean Sea on the way from Mexico to Spain via Cuba, the rest of the day was spent with my desire to speak with the people (statesman I am) leading us to almost being scammed by locals wanting to sell us cigars. Not a fond memory, so moving right on. Spanish Club that served English food for tea, and then toilet-explosion fun.

The next day, Awesome Guide Guy (seriously, we spent 10 hours in his company, so 40 man-hours, and not one of us knows his name. Scandalous) took us on a whirlwind tour past an authentic multi-story Cuban mall-thing (not as Soviet as you might think, but close in its spartan offerings); past the original Bacardi building, one of the few Art Deco building is the world outside of New York and Gotham City that doesn't make you want to gag, and which looks stunning when the sun set hits it; past the Museum of the Revolution with all its sweet Russian tanks (see later); past remnants of the historical Havana defensive wall; through the Plaza de la Catedral (meh); past the most awesome police station known to man – it is in a colonial castle on the harbour but has palm trees and flashy tropical signs out the front; it's like medieval torture meets camp 70s Hawaiian cop show; past the Plaza de Armas (again, see later); and finally to something we didn't revisit but warrants some elaboration. The Doric temple in the north end of the Plaza, next to the hotel Jimmy Carter stayed in, is built on the spot where the first mass was said in Havana under a ceiba tree (and we all know it's not a city until you telepathically talk to a Sky Wizard there). The tree died, so they planted another one. So, maybe it's not that exciting in the telling, but it was pretty to look at. I like Doric architecture. The tour picked up with us visiting a hotel that Hemingway lived in for a few years (see yet later); and then visiting a scale model of the city, complete with peculiar domes on particular roofs and during its lighting changes to simulate the passage of time, an honestly portrayal of the painfully few street lights on after sunset.

Meh, this isn't a particularly auspicious point in the narrative to make a break, but I'm sick of writing, so more later.

This lunar cycle

April 2015
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