I’m often asked: Is it changing?
In Habana Vieja and Centro Habana there are many ongoing construction projects, including building new hotels and refurbishing or rebuilding old hotels.
For the past year there has been a concerted effort to upgrade the electric service by removing the wires from sidewalks and them placing underground. Also the water lines are being replaced with new plastic pipe.
As a side note: There is no water pressure in the homes as we know it. The water is supplied to the streets by the government. The people then have to pump the water to cisterns or plastic tanks on the roofs of their buildings. From here it is gravity fed to kitchens and baths in people’s apartments.
Of course the haphazard trench digging down the middle of heavily used streets creates problems. Garbage cannot be collected and people have nowhere to safely walk.
I did find some children who were having a good time though. They were playing in some fresh, clean sand used to bury the lines.
I heard the sirens and saw the crowd gathering. Several police and fire vehicles arrived and were followed by unmarked government cars. I walked quickly along the Malecón toward the action. As I approached, I realized that officials were not in any particular hurry. I wiggled my way up to the seawall and soon discovered that there was a body washed up on the rocks. As I observed the authorities drag the body out to rendezvous with a patrol boat, I noticed how quiet and somber the crowd was. This festive horde of rum drinkers and dancers stood by with real concern on their faces.
What were they thinking? I imagined that they were wondering if the poor dead man drown while trying to escape from the island. Perhaps he was washed overboard from some make-shift raft. Perhaps he was shot by a military patrol.
I think it was a stark reminder to all about where and how they are forced to live.
I’m always watching. Watching people. Watching traffic. Watching life go by. That’s why I prefer a window seat when I fly, ride, or sit for a quick lunch; as I was in this case.
While I waited for my sandwich this poor woman on the sidewalk came up and touched my arm. She wanted money for food. Lots of people need money for food in Havana. I politely said no several times, but she wouldn’t leave. She kept pleading to me with her eyes. Of course, I gave in.
Kilometro Zero is one of my new favorite lunch stops in Havana. Good food, good prices, and if you are lucky, a window seat.