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More smoking stories

March 16, 2012

Dairies are an important running narrative on ones day-to-day activities. That nice lady decorator has taken to keeping one recently, especially when we are away from home, perhaps inspired by “The Motorcycle Diaries” written by Che Guevara about his exploits before he turned into the worlds most popular revolutionary. I ventured the opinion that this column, my daily font of knowledge and wisdom was on a par with these Motorcycle thingies, a persuasive daily insight into the issues surrounding a trip to a foreign country, but I regret to inform you that unlike many of my readers she does not seem to share this opinion. When I suggested as much she put her head in her hands and began moaning slightly and shaking her head and I got the feeling she did not entirely agree. I may be wrong, perhaps she thought this daily “diary” was superior but cannot be certain.

First target yesterday on our nearly completed trip to Cuba was Batista’s Palace, the Palace Of The Revolution, the opulent offices occupied by that the brutal dictator whom Fidelity Castro deposed. It has been made into a shrine for the revolution complete with bullet holes in the marble where an earlier overthrow attempt by the students of Cuba failed, Batista escaping out of a back door, which I suppose could also be a euphemism for homosexuality if one was to be so vulgar, but certainly not in this column.

Thereafter, a brief trot around the Vintage Car Museum, entrance about £1.20 at today’s Currencies Direct exchange rates but taking a camera cost £4, so no picture of that today then, instead I give you this picture of a steam train puffing smoke (a bit of a habit in Havana) along the full 200 metres of track still in use in use in the port area. Regular followers of this missive will know my feelings about the Health And Safety brigade so destroying the fabric of life in UK, so will know that I was delighted to see no fences, railings or warnings of any sort to pedestrians or motorists nearby because even a moron could work out either by sound, vision, vibration or smell that there was a steam train nearby. Smoke masks were not compulsory as some of us like the smell of smoke, either from a classic old steam engine or a good cigar. It remains an inconvenient fact  for the HSE loonies that no one has ever been injured by this train.

I especially like that unsecured metal plate just by the track. Health and Safety eat your heart out.

After all that culture lunch was an imperative starting within an aperitif. This is the home of the mohito so it seemed churlish not to join in the celebration of Cuban rum and partake. Not wanting to be considered churlish in any way we embraced the mohito movement until movement was undermined by mohito.

Last night the plan to go to the Hotel Nazionale (as we had heard it had some cool bars and restaurants) was changed en route in the taxi as we discovered it was not in the old town of Havana but in a soulless part of Havana Central which we had previously decided to avoid. We ended up in Cafe Paris. Not Cafe De Paris you will notice, but at atmospheric bar with a very large local clientele which reflected a comparative lack of sophistication, but where the mohitos were as strong as any we have encountered with almost a triple measure by UK standards of Havana white rum in each. I gave up and had some red wine.

Chris France


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