. . . The flight from JFK to Jose Marti was longer than ever experienced, due to the continuing winds from Tuesday's storms. We could feel the plane fighting for every bit of headway. As well, as we began the approach to Cuba this became the most turbulent flight on a commercial flight I've ever experienced.
As the weather forecasts had predicted, it was overcast and coolish in Havana. What the forecasts did not predict though, was a big rainstorm, which began a few moments after we got into the bus, about 2 PM and continued all through the night. It's still overcast today but it does look as though it is clearing.
The Hotel Riviera is located right on the Malecon; the way Mayer Lanskey had it designed, there is a view of the sea from every room, yet one cannot see the highway and the cars on it that runs along the Malecon. The view of the plunging, surging, exploding fireworks of wave and water -- the "penetration of the sea" in Havana idiom -- is spectacular through the floor to ceiling windows of the palacial space lobby. Here are a variety of decks and patios and lounging areas, as well as a bar, and the entrances to what used to be the casino and the nightclub and cocktail lounges. All afternoon and night guests were avidly videoing the landscape.
It brought so many memories of me spending hours back in 1999 - 2000 trying to capture these scene, where waves break in a line like aerial bombing against the sea walls of the Malecon. I walked past the Riviera at least once a day on the way to the market and only 'store' in Havana in those days. Nor had the Riviera been restored then. But I did attend music events and have drinks with friends here (Cubans were not allowed up into Cuban hotel rooms then, either.)
The Postmambo travelers arrive in a little while. Two hours after they check in we will take the mob history tour of the Riviera, go on to la Salon Benny More at la Tropical, then dinner in the hotel at the restaurant L'Aiglon, and then move over to the Bar Elegante for our celebration of Valentine's Day concert by the wonderful Haydee Melendez -- who happens also to be a most elegant musician in her personal appearance as well as magnificently talented -- her father is the, by now, mythic singer - musician, Pablo Melendez.
In the meantime, wifi is hard to do. Have to buy wifi cards from the the hotel to use in the hotel, and nothing else will work here -- which is another way the hotels get revenue of course. But one can't use the cards in one's room -- no service -- which also mean one can only use battery power down here in the lobby -- nowhere to plug in. Morever, a lot of sites, like my little DM friends site can't be reached from Cuba at all. And for some reason, on this little notebook, the display of any kind of image is all wonky too. So no posting of photos from here, it looks like.
But there ya, go. This is Cuba. If one came here to hang out online, one is a silly willy. Yet -- if one is doing business, even business that is good for Cuba, it's a real pita.
Unlike last month in Oriente, tourism seems to be doing OK here in Havana, though none of the hotels are full. I wonder if these giant dream houses built by US mafia lords and their confreres and friends ever were filled even in the halcyon days of Havana US tourism in the 1950's? My guess is the only time every room in Havana was filled was when President Obama came here -- not even the Pope did that, surely.