Go north from anywhere in Havana and you arrive at the Malecón, the ocean boulevard that stretches from Habana Vieja to the mouth of the Almendares river.
The Malecón’s great attraction is the wide stone seawall that shields the city from the Caribbean and provides a prime resting place for Havana’s restless population. Night or day, couples kiss, kids play on the rocks below, men fish from inner tubes bobbingon the surf – unless, of course,Yemaya’s in a contrary mood.
Yemaya is the goddess who rules the ocean,as any Cuban practitioner of Santeria can tell you,and when she starts sending waves up and over the seawall, look out. Even a low-level storm can leavethe Malecón flooded across all six lanes of highway. Seawater pours in, geysers erupt through cracks inthe pavement, storm-drain covers rocket skyward….
Head back inland and you encounter a tempest ofa different sort. Artistic expression, surging fromevery corner of Havana, shows no sign of letting up. Our Santeria friends point again to Yemaya, whose goddess duties include making creation happen.It’s not difficult to see how busy she’s been.
In Havana’s art galleries and museums but also in open-air markets, schools, abandoned factories and tiny one-room flats, visual artists are showing what they do, and much of it is astonishingly good. Some artists hope for a quick sale to a passing tourist, but many more, like most artists in the world, dream ofan exhibition abroad.
And with ever greater numbers of the world’s art patrons paying attention, as they’ve been doing since the Havana Biennial began to showcase Cuban art in 1984, such dreams are looking more like a sensible career path.
List of fine Havana Club rums:
Rum brands from Cuba