Havana April 2018 – Eight Crazy Days With Some Meditation

5 May

It started crazy enough already in Germany before even getting to Havana….

Christian arrived early in the morning the day before our departure to order some two hundred bottles of wine from Weinmann, a famous local winemaker here in the village.

We did that first, then packed our Cuba suitcases for a late check-in and after a small cigar and coffee we set out across the Rhine river to a fine wine tasting at the renowned Chat Sauvage winery in Geisenheim, home of the world famous German Wine University.

A fine tasting it was – albeit for Christian alone as I was driving and the day, apart from being hectic was a hot one, 32C and blazing sun.

We then had a long and leisurely lunch at Schloss Vollrads, asparagus and salmon – delicious. I kept to my Wineschorle …

From there to Frankfurt airport to check in our suitcases, get our boarding passes and back home for a Roseschorle, a good cigar and a light dinner on my terrace overlooking the village – which is where I then had my own private Chat Sauvage Pinot Noir tasting … all three bottles of it 🙂

I managed to get Christian down to Cafe Fritz for a short night’s sleep and he picked me up early the next morning for the ride to the airport.

The flight to Varadero was quite pleasant as we travelled up front and had nice beds for a good long nap.

Faithful J. picked us up and we had a Perla and a cold Cristal barely 25 minutes after touch-down and another one an hour later passing by his beach house in Brisas and greeting his lovely wife and son.

So far, so good. But arriving in Miramar at the new Casa I had reserved in February for us the real insanity started once we got out of the car.

We were met by Reynaldo, a sour faced guy I had never seen before – I had only met his wife when checking and reserving the Casa.
When he did not welcome us but instructed us to hand over passports, told us the “house rules” and pay him next day …. I immediately thought of breakfast :

1) the guy must have had vinegar for breakfast

and

2) I need lots of coffee in the morning and we would be up pretty early due to time difference.

When I brought up the subject he quickly told me to forget about it.

No coffee before 9 a.m. and no breakfast for another 2 days as he didn’t know what we wanted to have and it was hard to get stuff in Cuba.
No kidding, you tell ME after 15 years in Cuba, you comemierda !

Having quite a short fuse, I immediately knew that it was going to be a very short stay at that Casa.

Forget the nice roof terrace, the modern rooms, the Wi-Fi park across the Casa and the nice lovely wife of his.

The guy is a rude dumbwit/asshole/comemierda. Just wait for further confirmation – I received it later …

OK, we had paid one night’s deposit before arrival, I could order breakfast from 3 Chinitos, we would weather the present situation.

After a few beers and a good cigar at Espacios we felt relaxed. The roof terrace was nice for a few glasses of rum and some thinking.

Next morning dawned and we were up at 5 a.m. without coffee and very hungry. I ordered coffee, juice and sandwiches from 3 Chinitos which arrived 45 minutes later on a scooter. Saved.

The nice maid appeared by 9 a.m. and I asked her to call Yasmina, the owner’s wife I had met when I reserved.
She’d reasonable to talk with and maybe save the day if I just would not have to see the guy’s sour face again.

Instead 20 minutes later Mr Vinegar appeared asking what the problem was. Well breakfast for one and maybe a better attitude towards clients …

The guy, a Cuban running a car repair shop in Mexico, must have thought we were defective car parts. He told me I was free to change Casas if I didn’t like the style he ran his .. OK. Noted.

After visiting the Lung Kong society for the elderly, delivering a donation by Christian for them and visiting their kitchen, we stopped by the Partagas lounge for a Cafecito and a cigar. All the time my brain was working overtime looking for a Casa exit. I called Roberto’s place by the river – occupied.

Lunch at 7 Dias by the sea then, and while Christian was frying his bald head meditating on the grass to the wonderment of the other patrons I had my own meditation … grabbed my mobile, called and B I N G O – my dream Casa in Havana was just being vacated by guests and free for us …

Quick drive to confirm it – back to our Casa, all packed within 15 minutes, grab a second car for all our luggage and then write a note to Mr Vinegar :

Agreeing with your suggestion this morning to change Casa we are moving out. Find 4 CUC for the beverages we had and keep the one CUC tip. For any questions feel free to call me.

He never called back – but I called across that Casa a few times as Phil, a nice Englishman residing there is a friend. He confirmed Mr Vinegar’s reputation in the neighbourhood. Pity I had not asked him first …

Never had it happened in Cuba – Casa owners are generally warm and welcoming. Not this one. One more experience.

15 minutes later we were sitting in a beautiful garden, having welcome drinks by H. & S., the owners of this incredible Casa and feeling in Heaven after a stint in Hell.

Unbelievable peace, warm-hearted hosts, professional staff, garden, pool, a Casa with a special history, three large bedrooms, a large kitchen for Christian to play in, a well stocked bar … what else can you wish for …

OK, I know, a 3 week stay instead of just a week !

Truly the first time I didn’t want ( and didn’t need ) to leave the Casa in Havana. What a glorious, perfect paradise it is.

And NO I don’t know the name of the Casa so DO NOT ASK ME 🙂

We were so happy that we decided to dine in that night, Christian cooking some tremendous Surf & Turf, sharing a bottle of Weinmann Grauburgunder and smoking 109’s in the garden … pinch me, I believe I’m dreaming ….

I’ve had some nice Casas and great hosts in Havana, par for the course – but this one beats the handicaps by a million miles.

The rest of the days were the regular Havana routine – haircut at ArteCorte, this time, as Papito is recovering from surgery – by Lazaro “El Chino” a 35 yr career professor at ArteCorte and the second Cuban paratrooper I’ve met so far. Great guy. Happy to see him again soon !

Cigars at Reynaldo who’s back from Mexico. Watching Bayern-Real Madrid there, visits to Alex at the Comodoro, Internet and cigars at Club Habana with Jorgito in Chile on a visit.

Dinners at Marea with J. and his family, Claude and Ruth from Luxembourg, Espacios with Javier from Venezuela as well as Tocamadera, a splendid new little Paladar in Miramar, 7 Dias, Amigos del Mar …. the usual Havana routine.

Visiting El Laguito with Christian and Ed, our good friend from the US who missed the February visit – he would share our Casa with us for 3 days, a welcome presence and a true gentleman ( not to be confused with the “other” Ed ) the infamous Papichulo …. 🙂

I introduced Ed to my Cuban life and friends by throwing a nice little party/dinner/domino/music night at J.’s beach house 2 days before we left. A whole grilled pig, rice ‘n beans, salad, mojo, the works. The 2 cases of beer and 4 bottles of rum also did help some.

Good Ed, afraid of having “communication problems” relaxed and had a fine good time while some miracles happened.

Let’s say this was a miracle …. drinking Elijah Craig 131 proof ( 65,5% ) Kentucky straight Bourbon courtesy of Gentleman Bryan some of my Cuban friends became suddenly fluent in English … Thes Guiskey es veeery estrong mi freng … 🙂

Another miracle that evening was the transformation of Christian after meeting a nice & charming Cuban lady and good friend : Christian stops speaking Italian and promises to learn Spanish. He became totally relaxed ! Hallelujah !!

It seems that he loves Cuba ! Why did the miracle not happen at the start of the trip 🙂

Also – bless the Lord, he stopped blabbering and became quieter.
I managed to have a quiet day after all even if it was the last full day in Havana …

Again : Why did the miracle not happen at the start of the trip 🙂

And finally, we fulfilled the mission we set out to Havana for – get some really nice personalized 2-cigar coffins from Humidores Habana for Christian’s charity group “The Memory Connection”. 

These will be used to be passed around to friends during charity dinners organized by Christian for the benefit of seriously ill and neglected children all over the world.

It was a quiet last day, that is before departure as it became hectic and crazy again. What did I do to deserve this ….

Leaving for the airport Betty, a good friend and Casa owner called me that her guest, a friend of mine, had taken all house keys with him … he was leaving same time as we were but from a different Terminal. I knew he would be connected so I messaged him to hand the keys and 20 CUC to an airport official for pick-up by Betty.

They all refused …. he was getting as close to a nervous breakdown as I was.
Then I found the solution : told him to drop them at the VIP lounge of his Terminal and call me in the VIP lounge of my Terminal – it worked peaches and cream … 🙂

Never has a lowly RG Perla and three beers tasted so good before departure !!

Mission accomplished.

The return flight was excellent in that I slept most of the way. The body never forgives.

When I woke up in Germany I could not ( and will still not ) believe I had been to Havana.

Gotta repeat for a few weeks again – the Casa has already been reserved !

Nino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Responses to “Havana April 2018 – Eight Crazy Days With Some Meditation”

  1. joe 10/05/2018 at 15:05 #

    Have to ask about picture #42 (dead chicken). looks like what we call “road kill” in Texas.

    • Nino Munoz 15/05/2018 at 15:32 #

      Joe : In Cuba it’s not “road kill” but a sign of Santeria, the unofficial Cuban religion.
      This was left at the entrance to a church in old Havana as a ritual offering.

  2. joe akers 16/05/2018 at 21:24 #

    thanks Nino. I knew there was an explanation albeit one I never would have guessed.

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