I know I mentioned that my lack of Spanish, I understand more than I speak, though both not very well. So every morning I would take out my Spanish lesson book and try to add a few more phrases and words to my vocabulary. Each morning Dad and I would have breakfast at the B&B. My Dad knew the son of the woman who owned the place we stayed at. It's actually a huge house in the Vedado neighborhood of Habana where there are these beautiful old homes. This area is on the boarder of the Miramar section of Habana, with gorgeous mansions everywhere, many today have been turned into Consulates. The mansion we stayed in is half lived in and the other half rented to visitors.
Nobody speaks English here, so breakfast talk was a challenge for me. But thankfully it's basic Spanish. About the food, since I am obsessed with it now…well breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs, sliced ham, swiss cheese slices and Cuban coffee. Cuban coffee is really strong and sweet at the same time. The best part of breakfast was the cornucopia of delicious tropical fruits, banana's, mango, papaya and guava. My dad was so excited, as New Mexico is hardly a place for tropical fruits.
As we would leave our room we would lock this big black door with a huge skeleton key. One morning we shut the door to our room and there were 3 other black doors that all were shut too and some of the british colonial type, "very old", doorknobs did not work. Being that these doors were black it was completely dark now, I started to panic for a moment and then so did Dad. We grabbed at every door and jiggled locks and keys and we finally figured out in the dark how to open the door to let us into the hot brilliant sunlight. Then once we took in a big gulp or air and sunlight we bent over and laughed out loud, how silly or panic was but hilarious at the same time.
Usually after breakfast, Abuelo's neighbor, Luis, would pick us up and we'd spend the day with Abuelo and Berty. Dad would assess the house repairs and go through photographs and papers. As early pictures show the bathroom was in need of some serious attention. We found a plumber and hired him to come and repair the pipes. Let me tell you plumbers in Cuba are no different from the ones we have in the U.S., yes we got a view that no woman should ever see…sorry D. Watching the goings on outside this crumbling and enchanting home was the best entertainment. One woman across the street was on vacation and literally everyday she hung on her scrolled iron door watching what was happening outside but mostly watching us, weird way to spend a vacation if you ask me.
Dad would reminisce about boyhood stories, one of him throwing his ball against the patio wall and driving his dad crazy. He would go through old photos and old receipts from the 60's. Many a tear was shed during these memory sifting moments. It was nice and sad at the same time to see that my mom had sent letters and photos, chronicling every bad phase of my teenage life, to my grandparents. She sent postcards of the city we lived in so they could see where I was growing up. It really touched me that she was so diligent about it as I hardly wrote any letters. The language barrier always frustrated me. I regretted not trying harder…I had to tell myself “no regrets, look to the future” otherwise the water faucet would unleash. The columns outside my grandfather's house were so beautiful and intricate despite the chipping paint.
One day after visiting with Abuelo Dad and I took the afternoon to visit an old friend of his in the city center of Habana. She took us to what was at one time Baptiste palace, but now ironically is a museum about the Revolution.
Ceiling in a mirrored ballroom.
Beautiful chandeliers that I'm sure were in many a wealthy home other than this palace. I noticed when we drove around at night that all the chandeliers and cool light fixtures I was hoping to see had been replaced with more cost efficient hideous florescent lights. I'm sentimental what can I say and I love good lighting, for some reason this really bugged me. Florescent light is so "Joe versus the Volcano" if you catch my drift. Please light a candle, someone, anyone.
Shot down planes, missiles and revolutionary implements of war. Some even say U.S. I did not get the whole story on this but thought it was interesting commentary on foreign relations or lack there of