We had a bit of lie in as we passed the halfway mark of our Cuban adventure. I guess we’re relaxing into the Caribbean way of life.
For lunch we headed across the Parque de la Fraternidad in front of our hotel making our way for Chinatown. En route we took in the old steam engine graveyard stuffed full of rusting locomotives dating back to the 1800s. Sad to see them decaying away but also somehow a fitting death considering much of their decaying environs.
The Chinese/Cuban fusion lunch we had in the restaurant we eventually settled upon was lovely. I’m not 100% sure I could tell you what was actually in it but it was probably the tastiest meal we’ve had here to date. It was certainly the one with the best flavours.
To say that regular Cuban food is bland would be an insult to bland things the world over. There seems to be no history of cooking here, no traditional cuisine as there is on most other Caribbean islands. The staple diet here seems to be plain old fried chicken or pork accompanied by rice, refried beans and fried vegetables. And that’s just about it. What with the abundance of fruits and vegetables grown here I’m surprised that there are no more interesting signature dishes – and we’ve tied a lot of restaurants and spoken to a lot of locals about this. Most Cubans seem to share our opinion – and I hate to say this - they are just not that good at cooking.
After a bit of lounging by the pool and a (not very well earned) siesta we had another quick bite before jumping in a taxi for what was a very long trip to go to see the ‘must see’ show in Havana – Tropicana. Or so we’d been told. What can I say about Tropicana? We were utterly underwhelmed. It claims to have been running for seventy years – and it shows. Think faded feathers. Think dozens of dancing girls (Fidel’s babes?) Think non-stop mid-tempo mambo / salsa / rumba / cha-cha-cha music. Think awful tourist trap. Ugh!
Still, we knocked back the half bottle of rum included in the price (oh yes, and that crappy glass of wine too) so ended up clapping along with the rest of the crowd by the end. I don’t think we’ll be rushing back there again - certainly not at 80 CUC (£64) a head plus 5 CUC (£4) to be allowed to take photos. Ouch!