Breakfast was scheduled for 9 AM with our “breakfast parents” who live across the street from our Air BnB. When we walked into their apartment, we saw that the table was already set but, breakfast dad asked for us to sit in the living room while they brought out the rest of the food. We were presented with a plate of fresh fruit, warm bread with butter, coffee, warm FRESH milk, fresh fruit juice( this day it was Guava juice), ham, FRESH cheese, eggs, and last but not least fried TARO bites ( just mentioning them makes me miss it, they were delicious). Once we were done eating, they started to clear the table and they brought out our dessert: FLAN, yup… FLAN FOR BREAKFAST! When we were done, you can tell that they were kind of shy but we tried our best to make conversation with them.We asked random questions and they started to open up to us. This was the most difficult part for me since I don’t speak Spanish as well as I understand it, but I tried my best to keep up. They explained as much as they could about the Cuban lifestyle, what their lives are like, etc. One major thing I learned from them is that we take SO MUCH for granted. Compared to them, we really do have it good. Some interesting things they told us were:
- About 1,500 people apply for a U.S. visa a day and only about 5 % get approved. BUT, the majority of that 5 % cant even afford to purchase a ticket out.
- They receive a set amount of goods from the government per person a month. For example a set portion of rice, beans, cooking oil, about 5 eggs, etc. Basically, all of their portions are controlled.
- Doctors make somewhere around 50 CUC a month aka LESS THAN WHAT A CAB DRIVER CAN POTENTIALLY MAKE DAILY.
- Cuba just got internet a year and a half ago. Wifi is accessible on some phones and you are only able to connect at parks or hotels, AND they’re not allowed to have it in homes.
This is just a few of the many things we talked about with them and we sat there for hours.
After breakfast, we went back to our apartment, got ready, and head out for our Old Havana walking tour. Amalia actually set this up for us with a friend of hers, Maidolis. We walked over to the Malecón to hail a cab and we got a purple 1950’s Ford. At first he told us $20 for the 7 minute ride, and we said HELL TO THE NO and then he said “Okay, fine. $10!” LOL. We hooped in and made our way to Old Havana. We were instructed to meet Maidolis in the “Ceiba del templete” and Amalia told us she would be wearing a teal shirt, which didn’t really narrow it down much. Lol. But anyway, we found her and she was with her husband, Nelson. We started the tour around Old Havana. The architecture and beauty of all the buildings in Old Havana is really something, but this is such a touristy area that I got sick of it pretty quickly and it didn’t help that it was soooooo HOT. But, we continued walking around while Maidolis talked about certain buildings and their history. We knew we were close to a boxing gym that we wanted to visit so we asked them to help us make our way there. Maidolis had to leave, so she asked her husband to walk us there. He brought us there so we can get familiar with where it was and the guys and Jess can talk to the instructor. He wasn’t there yet so we were told to come back around 5PM. So the last thing we asked Nelson to help us with was to bring us to a a place where we can buy souvenirs. He brought us less than 2 blocks away and we entered this HUGE warehouse looking place with a bunch of souvenir vendors. Also known as a tourists nightmare. You could not walk around this place without someone trying to show you what they are selling and they barely budged with the prices. Anyway, we walked for a bit and before we left we bought some cigar holders and key chains.
After the souvenir warehouse, we were so hungry and wanted to find a good restaurant to eat at. We tried to talk to a cab driver who recommended one restaurant instead of the one we asked him to take us to since it was ” closer” we declined and got into another cab. We told him to take us to La Guarida ( This place was highly recommended to me by a few people) and since we were close the cab driver said 5 CUC so we hopped in. On our way there the cab says we need reservations for the place we want to go to, and then he recommended the same place the other taxi driver told us to go to. So we said WHATEVER and asked him to take us to the place that he recommended. We get there and the cab driver parks and comes up with us. As soon as we walked in, it just seemed sketchy, and we all immediately felt uncomfortable. We sat down, looked at the menu, and the CRAZY prices and we decided to leave. ANOTHER SKETCHY THING: the cab driver waited for us, when we definitely told him he didn’t have to. So we put two and two together, and we THINK the cab drivers get a cut when they bring the restaurant business. But anyway, we left and started walking back to the boxing gym. WE WERE SO FAR. But cabs weren’t stopping, or would say they didn’t fit 5, or would try to OVERCHARGE, and we weren’t having it so, luckily Michael had an app that we could use to locate the gym without using the internet, and we walked. We tried many times to find another restaurant to eat at or hop in a cab but EVERYONE seemed to be trying to just make money off of us and send us to a crappy looking restaurant or put us in a cab that was overcharging so they can make a cut. We kept it moving and finally made it to the gym. We were greeted by Moya, and he brought us inside. We sat down and waited for the 6 PM class to start. We watched for a bit and since we were all cranky and hungry, we decided to leave and make our way back to Plaza Vieja, where we knew there were a few restaurants. After too much walking, we make it back, and sit at a restaurant where a band was playing live music and was super busy, so we assumed it would be good. Joel and I ordered, and the waitress came back and told us they didn’t have what we ordered. As annoying as it was, we understood and left Mike, Jess,and Ralph and crossed over to the other side of the plaza and sat at another restaurant. A few minutes later, Mike, Jess and Ralph meet us and tell us that the ” CUBAN ” sandwiches they ordered were the worst they ever had. We ate and went to get a cab to go home and GET READY.
AFTER ALL OF THIS… it was only 8:30ish PM, we still had the whole night ahead of us.
We got back to the apartment and started to get ready to got to FAC (Fabrica De Arte Cubano). We also called Maidolis, Nelson, and Julianne (from Arte Chef) to meet us. Julianne declined because she said there’s always such a long line, however Maidolis and Nelson accepted and told us to meet a few blocks from where FAC was. When we met them at 10:30, we walked over to FAC, and the line was a block and a half long. We waited until 11:30 and GAVE UP. Maidolis recommended another spot nearby, so we made our way there, and sat down for some drinks and to just talk. This place was nice because it was right by the water and still really close to our apartment. Once it started to get pretty cold and the place was dying down, we started to just walk down the Malecón. We asked Maidolis and Nelson if they were hungry, and they said no but they knew of a place that we can get pretty good food: MR.MANGOS! This is the place you go to when you’re drunk and want cheap but good food. We ordered a few “Super Mario” sandwiches, french fries, breakfast platters, coffee, and mojitos to go. We took the food to go and Maidolis and Nelson called it a night.
** if you look at the photos, the 2nd to last photo of the crowd of people is the FAC line. **