Every guidebook talks about the famous Malecon in Havana. In my head this was the center of life in Cuba, with people catching up, music playing and full of life. I expected the Cuban version of a street along one of the beaches in the Costas in Spain. I expected restaurants and bars. I expected people playing salsa or reggaeton blasting from speakers.
My casa was on the end of the Malecon where the sad looking American embassy is, hidden by a bunch of empty flag poles. The Malecon stretches all the way to Havana Vieja, so I often walked along it to get back and forth. The Malecon is basically the biggest street of Havana with crazy traffic. Just crossing the street was a challenge. On the sea side is a pedestrian area. Sure, it’s a place where people hang out at night or go for a stroll, but I was slightly disappointed.
This was not the place that I had imagined, but because it was a ‘must-do’ I spent some time on the Malecon. We took a few drinks, sat on the wall and enjoyed the fresh air. At least it was refreshing here, with stormy winds gusting through this open space. I might not have found as much culture as I expected, but it was still a fascinating place to people-watch. The people passing by were a mix of Cubans and tourists. Besides that, it is a popular place for the classic American cars to drive.
Instead of the party central that I had expected, I found a bizarre mix of real life and tourists doing photoshoots from colorful cars. There was a fisherman quietly sitting on the wall, people out on the rocks, kids playing, tourists taking photos and families out for a walk. Cars were passing by, trying to convince us to take a ride with them. But I just sat and watched, quietly. The Malecon is a typical Cuban thing that you find in many cities, although I haven’t seen any as busy as in Havana. Why they don’t do more with a gorgeous location like this is a mystery to me.