I love Havana. There is something oh-so-special about the light--the life--in elegantly decayed La Habana. I go beyond old Havana, into the streets of Centro, of Cerro--walking, observing, experiencing. The laundry hangs from graceful old balconies. A woman sells delicious papa rellenas and cortaditos from her home window. Men carry open cartons of eggs--5 dozen or more at once, stacked, stacked and stacked on a shoulder. I smell the exhaust from the old American cars alongside the fresh baked cake with frilly pink icing that just got into the taxi with me. Listen to the kids screaming as they play futbol in the streets with shoes too big for their feet. Watch the smiles, the touches, the winks, the innocent and easy intimacy among family, friends and lovers in the streets. "Buena!" you'll say as you kiss the cheek of someone you've just met. There are no strangers here, not for long anyway. Dance with abandon to the trova, the son, the salsa music as it pours into the streets from cars and homes. Taste the rum, savor the frijoles negros over rice, pinch the yerba buena, crunch the granules of cane sugar at the bottom of a mojito. Havana is life in full measure. Life lived with the senses, with spontaneity, against the sea, under the caribbean sun and soaked in a sultry moon. La Habana seeps into me like rain into dry soil. I smile to think of it. Five times I've been in the last 25 months. It is not enough. I cannot imagine how it will ever be enough.
Chinatown, Havana, Cuba