At the port of Havana, near the Russian Orthodox cathedral, there is a ferry terminal to take people to two different towns across the channel, Casablanca and Regla. Bixaorellana understood that the fare was almost nothing, so we decided to go to Regla. (She will explain about the fare, but basically is was something like 20 centavos in moneda nacional which is pretty much zero in CUC (convertible pesos), so you just give the attendant whatever you feel like giving him. I think I gave something like 0.50 CUC both ways, which corresponds to 3 cents in American money. I saw a seemingly knowlegeable post on Trip Advisor that said that when locals said "I don't have any money" they were allowed to board anyway.
Anyway, it was nice to see something a bit different from the "big city."
I don't think the handsome young man is the shade of Cuban Trump wants to attract... Who knows what he's thinking...
There is a Dominican barber around the corner from my place and it is more a men's (and teen boys') club than anything else, watching sports, chatting. The barbers are artists, and some men, especially young ones like that lad, also get quite elaborate dos. Too bad they have to hide them under a tuque this time of year!
I'm seeing that for the first part of the trip, we managed to capture more or less the same things. Once we got over to Regla, there was more pointing of cameras in different directions.
Interesting note about the Dominican barber, LaGatta. We saw something similar in Havana taking place in the streets, mostly over games of dominoes, or fishing at the malecón.
Views from the dock ~
The interior of the terminal is surprisingly modern compared to the bare-bones dock ~
The daily trip that many of the passengers must make created a cozy atmosphere ~
The other ferry chugging away to Casablanca, up & around the corner of the Regla route. It's where the old fort is ~
I know that Kerouac has some very interesting pictures of the exotic atmosphere that greets the disembarking passengers. Because of being sucked into that atmosphere, I lack photos. For the moment I'll just say that at first glance Regla seems like much of Havana .....
Bixaorellana is referring to the fact that she has the misfortune to speak Spanish, so she was sucked into a long discussion with the sort of religious market awaiting our arrival. There were fortune tellers, faith healers, amulet vendors, beggars and all sorts of fascinating things.
Actually, I got very few photos of this area as well, because a tiny old woman ran up to me and started pummeling my chest screaming, and then she collapsed writhing on the ground. I was trying to pick her up, but other people came running over to stop me. "Epilepsia, epilepsia!" they said. Someone took over care of the woman. Bixa was blithely unaware of all of this as she got her palm read or something or other. I couldn't really make a Cuban epilepsy photo report, so I just waited for Bixa to finish her discussion, and then we walked into town.
I laugh all over again thinking about our introduction to Regla!
Even though the part of Regla we saw seemed like a sleepy backwater, in reality it's important enough to warrant that impressive town hall shown above. To quote wikipedia: The town is a commercial and industrial suburb with shipyards. It was founded in 1687.
As you'll discern from the pictures above & some that I will now show, the town maintains a strong revolutionary fervor which goes back to Cuba's struggle for independence from Spain. The first speech with political pro-independence overtones delivered by National Apostle José Martí was delivered in the Lyceum of Regla. wikipedia
By 1957 Regla was a hotbed of anti-Bautista conspiracies and actions, culminating in the killing of a member of one of the clandestine militias by the local police. His funeral, attended by thousands, turned into a riot. Motorized police surrounded the cemetery where the burial was taking place and fired into the crowd. For much more detailed history, consult the Spanish-language wikipedia entry.
That was lovely to see - buildings might be old and neglected but what struck me immediately was the effort in keeping street clean and devoid of all garbage. Everything is old but clean. A great pat on the back from me as an armchair tourist. How wonderful not to be enveloped in another 'shit hole'. I see some pride in Regla and in Cuba overall. Africa should sit up and take note. People might not say it, but they definitely think it - Africa is filthy, filthy, filthy.