Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Havana, Cuba IV

The buildings in Cuba made me really sad. Thanks to it's diverse past and colonization, Cuba has some incredible Spanish and French inspired buildings. They are even better because of their wonderful pastel colors baked by the sun. However, a good number of the buildings are crumbling and on their way out. Along the Malecón, a popular roadway by the water, the buildings are in the worst shape, tortured by the wind and salty air coming from the sea. It's awful that these gorgeous buildings with a perfect perch on the coast are abandoned and sitting empty, some with collapsed roofs and weeds sprouting from the cracks. Most are unsafe to enter and fenced off, but you can see graffiti and trash through the empty door and window frames. These devastated buildings have so much embellishment and detail in the facades, columns, and windows... it's impossible not to imagine the city in it's  glittering glory days of decades past and feel blue.

The home we stayed at was on the Malecón (one of the few inhabited), which stretches for 8 km along Havana's coast and is a lovely place to take a stroll. In the evening, the wall is covered with fishermen and couples kissing in the setting sun. I woke up before sunrise one morning, and experienced a nearly deserted and peaceful Malecón, except for the crashing waves on the seawall. It is such a landmark in Havana.

As tourism has picked up, the Cuban government has started restoring key buildings in the city, but they've got a long way to go, and so many homes won't make it. 

- Julia