A Rapid Decay

Today was a day of reading a bit about Havana and going to youtube and listening to some of the beautifully complicated rhythmic music we hear from that country.  I’m always amazed at the inventiveness of the Cuban musician. On one hand you have strict adherence to tradition and on the other you have a daring and fearless hunger for change.

One thing that does NOT change is the constant decay of some of the most beautiful architecture in the world. Havana has buildings that were erected not long after Christopher Columbus appeared on the island and after the city was formed, rapid and classic design took place in that tropical location.  Our hotel, the Hostel Valencia located in old Havana, was completed at the end of the 1700’s and I believe that after almost 40 years of travel I had never been in such a hotel with so much character.  It was a building that was originally the home of councilman Sotolongo and in it’s day it must have been a magnificent single family dwelling.  You’d be hard pressed to find a more comfortable and reasonably priced hotel in one of the best locations of Havana.

We are lucky to be able to live in a time when we can buy cigars from a country that produces tobacco and cigars with production requirements that have not changed almost since cigars were first invented.  Yes, improvements in design and construction have made great strides forward but we still are fortunate to have tobacco products without ANY chemicals and additives that alter their taste. A stone’s throw from El Capitolio in the centre of Old Havana is the Partagas cigar factory which offers tours and a world class cigar shop where thousands of lucky cigar smokers pick up treasure to take back to countries all over the world.  The facade of the Partagas building has not changed and is in relatively good condition as is the exterior of El Capitolio but a tour of the old capital building’s interior will reveal peeling paint from ceiling and wall murals which would bring a tear to anyone who appreciates fine decoration and historical reference.  See pictures below…..

Not really the worst example we saw but still a situation that needs attention.

One can only imagine these amazing arches when they were originally built and at the same time I think we all share a hope for this picturesque city’s future.  Everywhere you look you see a steady decay of architecture that needs to be saved so future generations can appreciate the beauty and massive effort required to build something so inspiring.

This is a country that needs us to do what we can to keep it from crumbling completely and one thing a responsible cigar smoker can do is to insist on purchasing authentic cigars from Cuban government stores and NOT from counterfeit scam artists on the street that will promise you the real thing for a fraction of the price. There is no such deal in Havana and if you think you can find it, you’ll be terribly disappointed when you get home with your banana leaf cigars in varnished, second rate Cohiba boxes.