31 December: Havana New Year's Eve

indi's picture


A Walk along Malecon

Noe was a bit feverish when we woke up in the morning, so we decided to give him some medicine. I feel so guilty for not bringing Noe’s sweater last night, and I didn’t realize that the last night’s wind was a bit too cold for him. Nevertheless, Noe was still cheerful and curious about his surroundings, so we decided to just go ahead to stroll around town. Before we go, Noe played with turtle in casa isbel.


The neighbourhood where Casa Isbel is located is Centro Habana, which is quite densely populated and the buildings are deteriorating. People do a lot of activities on the street.


We walked north to Malecon and stroll along this “Havana’s living room”. The traces of Havana’s bright heyday could still be read in the old buildings along Malecon. When Cuba’s economy recovers, this area could become really beautiful (provided that there’s no billboard). We met a santeria lady who was very friendly with Noe. A lot of people just chilled down in Malecon. Some went fishing there, or scuba diving, or just playing with seawater.



Passing by Prado

We continued walking up to the end of Malecon then turned towards the Prado, a boulevard with a median section made from marble, which is very pleasant to walk on. There are many benches provided along Prado, so people can sit, walk, or even play baseball at the median of Prado.



Many houses were playing music in their stereo very loudly. I don’t know whether this is just because of the Liberty Day, or it’s their habit.

We walked up to Parque Central and crossed the street towards Hotel Inglaterra and the Teatro Nacional. We saw a statue of Jose Marti, Cuban national hero. Nearby, there is El Floridita, where Hemingway had his daiquiri. But we didn’t eat there because everything was so pricey, no way we will pay six dollars for a glass of daiquiri. We decided to just have spaghetti and pizza at Pizza Parque Central, which is reasonably cheap, but the taste was unacceptable.


We went to the Teatro Nacional but it was closed. The billboard of events in Teatro Nacional was created by hand rather than printing. I guess they’d like to save cost by not printing any event publication. Outside, there are people selling tickets for the ballet on the 1st of January.

Celebrating 48 year of Revolution

We saw a lot of signage and billboards congratulating th 48th year since the Revolution. We walked towards Habana Centro and a lot of poor people begged for some pesos from us. An old lady was asking for money, she told us that she had 12 children.


Since Noe was still a bit sick we decided to go back to Casa Isbel so that he could take a nap.

New Year party at Indonesian Ambassador's Residence

After the nap, Eko picked us up for the new year event in the embassy. We met with the Indonesian community in Cuba, which is less than 30 people, including the embassy staff. Some Indonesians have lived here for more than 40 years, because they were part of the student exchange program initiated by Sukarno, and after Suharto got into power, they couldn’t go back to Indonesia. At the end, they got married with Cuban women, and had a family in Cuba. Some of them managed to keep their Indonesian citizenship, but some lose it.



For dinner, we had roast turkey, which was a New Year gift from Fidel Castro. Fidel gave the ambassador a freshly cut turkey, and the embassy household staff marinated it with barbeque sauce and roasted it.


The food was really delicious! There are mutton satay and lamb chop, turkey, oxtail soup, fried chicken, etc. We really missed Indonesian food after three weeks of traveling.

The children of embassy staff in Cuba were really fluent in Spanish, because the parents employ Cuban housemaid and baby sitter. Ilham, who is the same age as Noe, kept pointing his fingers to the night sky and said “La Luna”.

Meanwhile, Noe was really lengket with Tia Put.

We saw picture of Sukarno with Che and Fidel.

The kids were playing pinata, where the adult were playing domino.

Then we also had dangdut karaoke.

At midnight, the ambassador led the countdown towards 2007. We stayed up until quite late. But when we’re back in our room, Noe’s fever rose again.


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