Mojitos in Havana!
I always dreamed of going to the Caribbean because of the beaches but after my trip to Havana, I now know that Cuba has so much more to offer than just sunbathing! As soon as I started walking around Havana I felt as if I was in a different world – the combination of old cars on the street, colonial buildings and the sound of salsa… It’s just so different from any other place in the world!
There are a lot of interesting places to visit in Havana but Vedado it is definitely the best area to stay. It is a lively neighbourhood with nice homes and a lot of activity; the real centre of the city… and this is where my Cuban host family lived and where I also had my Spanish course!
The teachers were really friendly, patient, and obviously had lots of experience of teaching Spanish, because they really know how to help you learn, but make sure you enjoyed it at the same time – and with just 2 other people n the same group as me, we could always ask the teacher if there was anything we didn’t understand.
My host family Los Rodriguez live next to the University and have a very nice apartment. My room was big and comfortable with a private bathroom and air-conditioning. The meals were just fantastic. Breakfasts were wholesome with eggs, fruits, juice and delicious coffee. Dinners were always on time and included meals like fish, rice, black beans, fried banana, salads, etc… and Havana’s historic old town was within walking distance… but it was easier to take a taxi… or do what I did…
Only at few blocks away from my host family there was a Coppelia stand, the island’s most popular ice-cream parlour. There I had an ice cream and then took a ‘Coco’- a funny, yellow, helmet-shaped vehicle, for just one or two people, pulled by a bike….which took me to Havana Vieja (the old town). On the way, we went along the world-famous ‘Malecon’..an espalanade which runs the length of the seafront. This gave me great views of the old city from the sea and took just 8 or 10 minutes from my house.
My first time in Plaza de la Catedral, a beautiful square in the centre of the old town, was simply magical! There were old women and men dressed in the typical colours and smoking Cuban cigars, supposedly the best in the world. I sat in front of the cathedral and I ordered a typical mojito (rum and mint)… which you simply have to try.. a ‘Mojito’ in Havana tastes like no other Mojito you’ve ever tried! So much better – the real thing! A band started playing and then the locals around joined them singing and dancing; then the tourists felt enthusiastic and started dancing as well, myself included! It was all spontaneous, friendly, fun and so CUBAN!!
At the weekend I visited the nearby Playa del Este- the most beautiful beach that I have ever been to IN MY LIFE! – I was fascinated that there were Salsa bands playing on the beach and everyone was dancing around on the sand. It was so great!
Before I came to Cuba my perception of the country was definitely different and now I know by experience that the island is the safest place in all of Latin America, rich in culture, full of atmosphere and cheerful, welcoming people.
My Cuban experience has been wonderful and I’m now dreaming of coming back!
Thank you to the teachers on my Spanish course. I hope to see you all again soon!