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Regina Cano: I have lived my entire life in Havana, Cuba – the island from which I’ve still never left, and which I love. I was born on September 9, and my parents chose my name out of superstition, but my mother raised me outside the religion professed by her family. I studied accounting and finance at the University of Havana, a profession that I’m not engaged in for the time being, and that I substituted for doing crafts, some ceramics, and studying a little English and about painting. Ah! – concerning my picture: I identify with Rastafarian principles, but I am not one of them. I wear this cap from time to time, but I assure you I just didn't have a better picture.

This Cuban Visited Lima and Returned to Havana

June 30, 2017 | Print Print |

By Regina Cano

With Sheila on the Pacific coast.

HAVANA TIMES — As you can see, I had a place to stay, which LASA (Latin American Studies Association) ensures for their grant holders, and which I shared later with one of my colleagues.

A very luxurious hotel, the Atton in San Isidro, with an international breakfast buffet, located in a ghost neighborhood, where you would rarely come across people walking down the street and dog’s urine is adulterated with artificial perfume. Its a place which I would describe as an area for businesses and hotels with a few houses belonging to people of a good social standing.

The brother of one of us Cubans agreed to be our guide for most of the time we had available to take a look around this city, to the group of us three who had decided to explore together.

The first day after our presentation at the Congress our guide’s family invited us to try a soup at a popular restaurant “Siete Sopas”, which is open 24 hours. A restaurant located on Arequipa Avenida, one of the busiest roads in the city and which offers soup as the dish of the day.

I was left amazed by the soup that day, the kind that can “bring back the dead”, as we Cubans say, with free bread and decorated with chives, onion, toasted corn and a spicy sauce as an extra – I recommend it – and it was also accompanied by chicha morada, a soft drink made of corn of the same name. The medium sized soup cost 19.90 soles and the exchange rate was 3.25 soles to 1 USD, quite expensive to me.

It’s part of a group of businesses, a partnership I suppose, and a mural on the wall said: “… with every soup that you buy, you are helping a neighbor, a child and an elderly person with few resources…”, and it advertizes on facebook with the same name.

Miraflores

I visited San Juan de Miraflores three times, as one of us was staying here – at the Ibis hotel on Larco Street – the tourist area par excellence, with extremely high prices, next to the Pacific coast and with stores from the most well-known brands.

Of course, I took advantage of my first visit to give some books to a CLACSO (Latin American Council of Social Sciences) colleague, from a Brazilian visitor who was staying in one of the hostels there, who had been in Cuba and left them behind.

A very dark and fine gravel seems to cover this part of the coastal shore, where tides break in the form of conchas (shells) at one point. Oh no! “That’s a bad word in Lima,” our guide said, “make waves…” I corrected myself.

They say that there are always surfers, who are the same ones and who are always there – even though they work – they finish working and come back here.

There is a road which is very close to a mountainside, which is covered with a net, as it’s considered dangerous, although “… it’s been a while since there’s been any accidents,” the driver of the van who was taking us around told us. According to him, it’s the roots of plants that make these mountains survive.

Central Market

Like many Cubans who travel, I had made myself a promise to bring back presents for everyone (souveneirs), family members, friends, the godson, buff!, it was hard to find something appropriate and cheap, and sellers didn’t make it any easier for you, taking advantage of the fact that you’re a foreigner to hike up prices, like what happens in Cuba too.

One day, searching for souvenirs, we went to Central Market or the roundtable, as it’s known. Ah! What a stifling place that is, as it was blocks and blocks of people selling under one roof, small stands set up by independent sales people, where everything is gathered, with a mix of music, smells, a lot of lights and sales people wanting you to buy from them. It reminded me of the large crafts fair in Havana, in their behavior, not their goods of course, as they are a lot more industrial at Central Market.

I remember that I could only put up with visiting three or four blocks, not being used to going out shopping or to Havana’s fair, I couldn’t deal with it.

We tried Ceviche on the grounds of the Central Market, which put my stomach to the test, but I really enjoyed it. I wasn’t very cautious when it came to my stomach, but it was either do that or not try Lima’s food. Once I arrived in Cuba, I had to take Cefalexina (Antibiotics) and Metronidazol.

There, I tried chicha morada again, as I didn’t like the taste of the much-advertised Inca Kola, with its artificial flavor.

When it came to my expectations, I left without trying choclos (corn on the cob) and other things of course, among which I would have liked to have tried guinea pig, to convince myself that its flavor saves it from the gulf that you sometimes find between a healthy food and how awful it is to eat, but they say that guinea pig is delicious.

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What's your opinion?

  • Eden Wong

    Congrats on attempting to be a little adventurous with food. Cubans have some of the most conservative palates for different food imaginable and it’s great to see someone pushing the boundaries.