When I think about Havana, the first thing that comes to mind is not its buildings, or its streets or the surrounding Malecón seawall; it is my grandfather.
It is probably because he was the first person to take it upon himself to “show me” Havana. I remember that when my sister and I were little, my grandfather would take us on the same outing. He would say that it was the [José] “Martí outing,” and he would take us to places where Martí had been, including the house where he was born, the San Lázaro quarries and the El Prado boulevard.
The Plaza de la Catedral was the last stop on the tour. There, in El Patio, we would have cheese sandwiches and drink lemonade, and year after year, without my sister or me being able to do anything about it, my grandfather would put on a “clown act.” The very respectable math professor would unabashedly sing part of Gonzalo Roig’s traditional Spanish operetta Cecilia Valdés in the middle of the plaza. I must admit, with a little bit of embarrassment, that I still relish that intimate moment of zaniness between a grandfather and his granddaughters.
After I grew up, nights in Havana became something special. I believe that not a single park or section of the Malecón was left untouched by my friends and me, when we would get together with guitar in hand. The cinema, the theater, and the Havana coast all hold special memories treasured by all of us who share them.
Every one of us has a specific Havana that we love, long for, need and enjoy in our own way. We hope that you will recognize your city in this special edition of OnCuba, which we have dedicated to the former Villa San Cristóbal de la Habana, which will turn 493 years old on November 16.
OnCuba invites you to: An interview with City Historian Eusebio Leal; the story of the House of the Green Tiles, and that of a special Havana woman who made her home into a theater venue; the Quinta de los Molinos park; people who, in this city, devote themselves to trades that have almost disappeared; the new policy for renting locales in Habana Vieja; the return of the ancient tradition of Havana’s Tarasca.
We invite you to an encounter with our Havana. This could be the beginning of a tour carried out with your feet and with your soul.