Cojimar, Havana, a Picturesque Town Open to the Gulf’s Breeze

December 12, 2016 |

Photo Feature by Nike and Ariel Glaria Enriquez

HAVANA TIMES — On an imaginary journey towards the east of Havana’s coastline on board an old fishermen’s boat, exactly where the rocky hill that closes off Havana Bay is lost on the horizon and the coast begins to be covered in coastal vegetation, appears Cojimar Tower, a small Renaissance fortress which was completed on July 15, 1649, and gave birth to the town which it owes its name to.

While boats made progress across the calm waters, we arrive at a small beach in the shape of a half-moon where the river and sea meet, after having passed an iron bridge which connects both of the river’s shores to the rustic pier where our journey through Cojimar begins.

The “oldest” part of the town, like people from Cojimar like to say, is without a doubt, the area closest to the famous Tower, Cojimar’s emblem. Just a few steps away from the Tower, in the small promenade lined with pine trees and their shadows, the bronze bust of Ernest Hemingway reminds visitors of the presence of this writer and his most famous work, The Old Man and the Sea, which was inspired by Cojimar and its people.

In front, the intense blue waters of the Gulf carry a breeze which makes the pine tree branches rustle before being trapped by the large covered doorways of tiles held up by aged columns, traces of a colonial past that continues to live on in the building style of its oldest buildings.

Urban expansion of the town at the turn of the 20th century, evident in the neoclassical elegance of the old Specialized Medical Center, later the Campo amor hotel built in 1907 – one of the most obvious ruins today – and other landmarks such as the Loma hotel, Quinta Aguada or the La Terraza restaurant where a healthy Hemingway made himself available to everybody. Don’t forget the beneficial waters of Poseta de los Curas, one of the most favorable places to bathe in the sea on the rough coast. And of course the town’s fishing tradition has also made Cojimar famous.

Cojimar reached it’s point of glory during the 1940s and 1950s. Then, the city’s main avenues were widened and paved. The town of Cojimar (as locals insist on calling it) became a neighborhood of Havana and an attractive place for modern tropical architecture to take root in the ‘50s and beginning of the ‘60s which reflected the breeze, sun and calm sea atmosphere of its surroundings.

Nevertheless, today, despite the threat to its preservation and history posed by the disorganized urban and population growth for over 30 years, Cojimar is still a place that visitors can easily fall in love with and a town where the loyal tide of the Gulf’s current will never leave it, just like the nostalgia of many generations of Cojimar residents.
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NOTE: The aforementioned buildings, such as the Specialized Medical Center, are not the only ones that you can find today in Cojimar. As you can see in the photos, the domestic eclecticism of the first few decades of the 20th century and villa-style homes were also widespread trends. Photo captions for photos of modern architecture, refer to the period in the 1950s and early-1960s. Old photos (black and white) were downloaded from digital archives which do the rounds today on USB sticks and social media. The rest were taken by these Havana Times collaborators.

Click on the thumbnails below to view all the photos in this gallery

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  • Ronin

    Beautiful pictures. Thank you.

  • Carlyle MacDuff

    Looking at pictures of pictures of Cuba always reminds me of the beauty of Cuba and the variety of scenery. one can understand what attracted Hemingway to Cojimar.
    Very recently I spent a night in a casa at Camarioca which is only a short distance from the Varadero peninsula.
    For exercise I took a walk down to the small local beach – which was quite nice with a small island offshore which it was possible to wade out to. To the immediate right of the beach there is a substantial MININT facility blocking off access to the shore, so I turned northwards towards Varadero. Having strolled along the beach I clambered along some typical rocky stuff and suddenly received a shout when upon looking up from my concentration upon the rocks, there was a man in uniform looking down from a grassy knoll and beyond him saw a wooden tower of about 20′ in height with two more uniformed men at the top. The man instructed me to clear off and that I could go no further.
    So I turned inland and them walked a little further to find out that what I had seen was a MININT Guard Tower. Cubans can’t go very far without being reminded of the rules, regulations and control’s that are a part of the communist system. It was a reminder of the freedom that people in Europe and North America have being able to access the foreshores without let or hindrance.

  • Carlyle MacDuff

    I hope that folks noted that only yesterday, a boatload of Cubans successfully landed in Florida. Where did their dangerous journey commence?
    Cojimar!
    In the first 11 months of 2016 the Miami Herald reports that over 50,000 Cubans reached the US and as indicated the number is still rising. The people who are making the journey are not pottering geriatrics like Raul Castro, Machado Ventura and the row of be-medalled and failing Generals, but the younger generations who still have their energy and can contribute to an economy – the future of a nation driven out by the 19th century policies of Marxism/Leninism which the Castro dictator brothers have pursued for fifty eight weary destructive years.

  • Nick

    Thanks for these pictures.
    Wonderful.
    Of course all Mr MacDuff sees is just another opportunity to propagandise.

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      Just a minor correction Nick – propagandize.
      I understand that you do not wish to see any connection between the beauty of Cojimar and those whose last glimpse of their homeland as they fled, was of that place. I am surprised that so many Cubans actually manage to flee by boat or raft, because MININT has its observation towers at strategic locations and there is helicopter surveillance of the coastline to the east of Havana.

  • Carlyle MacDuff

    If you care Nick to check in the Oxford English Dictionary, you will find that propagandize is spelt vwith a ‘z’ and their is not an alternative.
    The American Websters dictionary although established prior to the Oxford dictionary doesn’t recognize an alternative either. So I Nick am not spelling the word my way, but rather the correct and only way.

    • Nick

      I think that it should be ‘there’ is not an alternative.
      Rather than ‘their’ is not an alternative as you have put.

      There are more than two English Language Dictionaries in the world Mr MacDuff.
      You are keen Insisting that your spelling is the correct way.
      I say that seeing as you you devote so much effort doing it, then you just spell it any way you prefer.

      • Carlyle MacDuff

        Correct this time Nick – about ‘their’. As both Oxford and Webster’s do not provide alternatives which English Dictionary are you referring to Nick?
        I thought that you would be pleased that I had noticed your view that I propagandize. Obviously you do not like the promotion of freedom for Cubans similar to that which you yourself enjoy. There lies the difference between us. But Nick, as I consume my Christmas dinner in the warmth of Cuba I shall also think of the Vienna Boys Choir singing Holy Night – for everybody!
        You will be spared my comments for a prolonged period as I cannot contribute when at home in Cuba.
        2017 will bring Cubans one more year closer to the freedom that is inevitable.