INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCE IN HAVANA
My latest tour with American actor and comedian Jaime Kennedy was the most enjoyable of my career as a guide in Cuba. Visiting a new country for the first time is all about the experiences that you have during you stay. In the case of Americans visiting Cuba I believe the experience is even more unique, simply because it has been forbidden for so long. The various tours and activities that I lead offer Americans the opportunity to get a feel for the people, culture, and history of Cuba.
We started our journey around lunchtime, with a stop for something to eat at the restaurant La Moneda Cubana. This is one of my favorite restaurants in Old Havana, because of the views of the bay that is offers, and the great food. After lunch we got back in the pink 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air that we were touring in, and crossed Havana Bay to visit the fortress that guards Havana Harbor. After touring the fortress, and visiting the nearby Christ of Casablanca statue, we crossed back into Havana and went straight to the bar El Floridita to get out of the heat, and have a refreshing Daiquiri at one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite spots.
By the time we left El Floridita the sun had gone down quite a bit, and we started our tour of Old Havana. This part of Havana seems stopped in time, and is one of the places in Cuba were local Cubans and Americans bump elbows. Jaime is just as funny in person as he is in his movies, and I can honestly say that I probably enjoyed the days he was in Cuba as much as he did. My version of the Old Havana tour covers the four main squares of Old Havana, as well as visits to some of the buildings that are being renovated by the Office of the Historian of the City. Most of the buildings in this section of Havana are hundreds of years old, and full of history. According to Jaime, one of the highlights of his trip was visiting the Ernest Hemingway room at the Hotel Ambos Mundos, were it is believed the famous American author wrote “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” While at the Hotel we both had what we agreed was the best Pina Colada ever!
I believe that Jaime became fascinated with Cuba by the end of his visit, and asked many questions about the island’s economy, history, and daily life. He expressed regrets about the condition of certain areas of the city, and expressed his hopes that perhaps through the greater number of tourists who are visiting conditions will improve for Cubans.