Castles, Rum and strangers.


Havana, Cuba – January 26 2009

Another good day. I took a taxi to El Morro. The only way to get to the castle is by an underwater tunnel that is only accessible by car.

Like a lot of museums and historical places here in Havana it has the potential to be great but is underdeveloped and in need of money, time and effort to restore it fully. It has a great view of old Havana and the gulf.

I made the trek to San Carlo de Cabaño. Well after I walked ½ mile down the wrong road, then had to walk back the way I came then ¼ mile up the hill to the fort. Aside from the view of Cristo de la Habana on Casablanca and the Canon blast at night there wasn’t really anything to see that was of interest to me. There was a lot of construction going on.

I made my way down the hill back to El Morror declining the offers of unlicensed taxi and took a look at the stalls set up in front of the castle. The sellers whistle, hissed and made puckering sounds anything to get your attention and buy something. One ambitious seller went as far as trying to put a beaded bracelet on my wrist telling me it matches my shirt.

There was only one licensed cab waiting outside but refused to take me into old Havana claming he was not free. A man approached me as I walked away.

“Taxi?” He asked pointing to his car. He was an unlicensed taxi. A Cuban who transports people in their personal car and illegal (for the driver) to drive foreigners in their car.
“Erm are you official?”
“Yes, official. El Morro.”
“Do you have meter?”
“No, no meter.”
“I’ll wait for an official cab.” I said pointing to the red Cubataxi who refuse to take me earlier. I walked across the street to wait for another taxi – an official taxi. Not to say I don’t have a sense of adventure but getting into a random and complete stranger’s car doesn’t scream good idea to me.

Minutes passed as I waited for another taxi. I watch the driver of the unlicensed taxi get out of his small black car and walk across the street. Hesitating for a moment while a jeep full of soldiers in their green uniforms drove passed.

“Where you going?” He asked as he approached.
“Museo de Ron.” I butchered the pronunciation. He stared at me confused.
“Rum Museum.”
“Ah Yes! Five Pesos.” I look around and still saw no sign of another taxi. The thought of me possibly standing out front of the castle for hours on end crossed my mind.
“Ok. Five pesos.” I help up 5 fingers. The driver smiled and nodded leading me to his car.

I slid into the back seat regretting my decision thinking of how stupid I am for getting into the car.

I held my breath surveying the best escape route incase it went bad. I exhaled when we finally pulled in front to the rum museum a few short moments later.

The museum with its’ English guided tour was by far the best museum in Havana yet. It ended with a taste test of 7 Añeo Rum. Very strong. But went down easy.

I carried my two big bottles of Rum as I walked back towards to Plaza De Armas and Calle Obispo. On the way I stopped in Plaza San Francisco again. It reminds me of the many plazas I’ve seen in Italy.

Tomorrow I’m not sure what I am going to do. Possibly Hemingway’s museum.

Only 3 more days.

I booked my sun wing pickup for Thursday from the reception of the hotel. They’ll be picking me up at 5:30pm in the lobby. This leaves me wondering what to do between check out at 2pm and pick up at 5:30pm.

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