HAVANA'S 500TH ANNIVERSARY
HAVANA, CUBA 500TH ANNIVERSARY
I begin this blog while waiting in what appears to be an endless line. Regardless of Cuban’s love/hate relationship with line, this one is different. The city of Havana is about to turn 500 years old, and this line is part of one of Havana’s oldest traditions. It involves walking around the old ceiba tree in Old Havana near midnight while touching the tree and making a wish. Since 2pm people have been getting in line for the chance to participate in this ritual, I was only in line for two hours before it was my turn.
That was just the beginning of last week, when we celebrated Havana’s 500th birthday. Old Havana full of people, and large crowds along the length of the malecon. I made my way up San Lorenzo to see some fellow journalists who had just arrived from Santa Cruz. We were on the seventh floor of the apartment they were staying at when we heard several large explosions. Explosions in Havana! Impossible!
It was the fireworks to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of Havana’s founding. I had never seen fireworks in Havana, and this show of lights lasted half-an-hour. I made my way to the street to see the fireworks and when they were over joined another group of friends to wait for the clock to strike midnight, and the moment Havana turned 500 years old.
At midnight there were celebrations everywhere. In front of the recently refurbished Capitol, at the castle guarding Havana’s harbor, along the waterfront, and then another round of fireworks commenced.
It is difficult not to fall in love with Havana at times like these, she is a cultured lady, elegant, magical, exquisite, seductive, and a rumbera.
By Dina GomGar