An Afternoon at Malecon, Havana, Cuba

29.01.19 06:39 PM By Putri

I have been known to have this habit to recklessly classify things together just because they bare tiny similarities between them, no matter how scientifically inaccurate or illogical it is. For example, any long shaped purple flowers are lavenders to me, and all white-flat petals flower are daisies. The same way I classify all food with coconut milk and cinnamon are curry.

So, when I read about Malecon being a seven point something kilometer seawall in Havana, I assumed it is just another long, big wall cover with algae protecting the sidewalkers from getting swept by waves. No biggie.

My apathy was ill-advised, or so he said…

Walking down the Malecon was on Nico’s To-Do list while we were in Havana. For some odd reason, he found it so interesting to stroll and linger along the bigass seafront. While I, I tagged along because he promised me a free-flow mojito.

That faithful morning, we walked about 5 km from our hotel in Miramar to get to the beginning of Malecon in Vedado area. Fortunately, our hotel was located right next to the 5th Avenue, which is claimed to be the most beautiful avenue in Havana. I must admit, this avenue was cool; it has wide sidewalks on each side of the road, even in the middle between the car lanes.

Our first stop was supposed to be the Torréon de la Chorrera, an old fortress built in the 1600 on a coral islet few meters from the Malecon that has been transformed into a very popular restaurant/bar. After 5km walking under the unforgiving Cuban sun, I was glad to take refuge in this fort and claim my promised mojito. So far, so good. Until we arrived on the site learning that the restaurant and bar were closed, and only opens later that afternoon. Bummer!

So, we resorted to the restaurant next door, the restaurant 1830. The restaurant looks like the colonialism meets Hollywood glamour meets boring governmental. It looks chic vintage from the outside but the décor inside was stiff. It fails miserably in preserving the ambiance of the old-world opulence. 

We sat at the patio outside at the back of the restaurant, soothed by the gentle sea breeze while enjoying the view of the bay. This restaurant is also known for its magnificent Japanese garden made of corals and seashells, which unfortunately closed for reparation, and romantic dome, that was also effing closed for repair. Bummer, encore. 

Japanese Garden at Restaurant 1830
The (doomed) Dome

Why so much negativity in this post, you ask (you don’t? well, let’s pretend you do, okay? Let’s pretend I have readers at all while we’re at it). Because at that point, after the long walk, under the heat, just to find the next door bar (the Chorrera) was closed, and the restaurant 1830 had not been at its best with all those reparations. I almost had a meltdown of epic proportion, had not Nico pacified me with a glass of cold fresh mojito and a plate of cold caramel pudding. Very understanding, that guy of mine. I'm definitely keeping him. 

With a much better mood and a higher blood alcohol level, we continued our stroll on the Malecon to see what the hype is all about. We’ve been told that Malecon is the second living room to the habaneros and they love to hang out at the Malecon. Although it seemed that day they were all probably taking a nap somewhere…. 

Where is everybodyyyyy???

Perhaps they were tired from hubba-hubba all night along the Malecon, or so my dirty mind thought when I saw a bunch of empty condom boxes scattered on every corner on the Malecon. I didn't take any pics of those boxes. I was already grossed out and was actually afraid I would find a used condom, because ewwww... 

Apparently, on any given nights, especially on weekends, dozens of habaneros (the Havanese, in case you kept thinking I have been talking about spicy peppers) practice balloon fishing along the grimy seawall. Balloon fishing is a technique involving an inflated condom/balloon from which hangs a drop line attached to a lure or bait. Condom is highly subsidized by the government and therefore is cheap and accessible for the locals. It is used as improvised floats to carry fishing lines far off the coast line, which is way more economical than buying real floats. Fishing, for most of the habaneros is not only a matter of hobby but also a mean to provide for the family.

We continued our stroll, and I just couldn’t believe my eyes of how clean, clear, and blue the water is along the Malecon. And why isn’t there any seagull?? 

On our way back to the hotel, we flagged down a cab. The driver speaks only Spanish but he was really nice. While waiting on a red light, he handed us these tiny long thingymagics rolled up in a paper. For me, anything long, tiny, and rolled up in papers are joints, especially after weeds are legalized back home in Canada. So, I happily assumed he was handling us some joints and I did not know how to hide my excitement react.

I was giddy, excited, and unsure at the same time, and couldn’t stop looking at those rolled up thingy magic with awe. Could it be joints? Would it be against the law? I mean, we where in Havana where people smoke cigars casually and drink rhum like it's water, how was I to know where they draw the line? Maybe they do hand joints casually like it’s peanuts.. 

I think the driver saw my giddy, excited, and unsure face on his back mirror and I am sure he thought it was a mistake to hand me some rolled up thingymagic. He then opened one of the rolls and pour out SIX FUCKIN' PEANUTS out of the roll. Those rolls were FUCKING PEANUTS, ladies, and gentlemen!! Who the hell have the luxury of time abundance to roll six peanuts in a piece of paper???

OK, now when I look at it, it doesn't look like a joint at all... But on the spur of the moment, I swear it looked like one!

Anyhow, I felt a bit silly and the pothead in me was a bit disappointed to the fact that it was only peanuts. At the same time, I felt glad that our driver wasn’t a dealer. Frankly, if it was really joints than it would definitely have added some zing to our adventure in Cuba.