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SPACE IN HAVANA

When the first private businesses started opening in Havana a few years back there were few bars in the city. I remember that two or three opened alongside the more popular private restaurants, or “paladares,” as we call them in Cuba. At first most people stayed away, waiting to see if there was some catch to this newly allowed pleasure. My older cousin invited a friend and I to one of these bars on a day when there was absolutely nothing going on. He said we would love it, that the bar had many fruit trees in its patio, and that they allowed you to mix your own drinks with the fruits from the trees that were in the bar’s garden. My cousin is like a brother to me, and I believed everything he said. Since this all occurred in very hot month of August, I put on a light dress, sandals, and took my friend along to “meet” Espacio.

The bar Espacio, which means space in Spanish, is located on Tenth Street between Seventh and Fifth in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana. It is housed in what was once a stately home that has been well preserved. It is bordered by a beautiful wrought iron fence, and crossing it gives you the feeling of entering another dimension. I was surprised by the number of foreigners inside, and the great décor. I thought that Espacio was a great name for the bar, and it also had a unique logo. Depending on your interpretation it could be someone stretching out their arms, or a Martini glass. Espacio has three main sections, the outside front patio, the inside which is air conditioned, and a reserved VIP section.

Now back to my story. I thought I would be able to create and mix my own drink, as my cousin had said. There were only a couple of mango trees in the patio area, and I could not find the area where you could mix your own drinks. I later realized how much my cousin was enjoying himself as I searched for the self-serve bar! He couldn’t stop laughing, and he finally let me in on the joke. While you can’t mix your own drink at Espacio, I have ever since been grateful to him for introducing me to this wonderful Havana night spot.

By Clao York









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