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HAVANA NIGHTS AND MORNINGS

11 February 2015

Once is an experience, twice a perversion… Peter Davies on getting wasted in Havana…

LATIN AMERICA FOCUS

Dieciocho-trienta, dieciocho-trienta…….

The numbers drifted across my consciousness, muddling with rapid eye movement sleep. Dieciocho-trienta, dieciocho-trienta. There it was again. Was I dreaming? My eyes opened. A baby-faced cop -still adolescent- hovered above, speaking into his radio. The voice was real. Dieciocho-treinta, dieciocho-treinta (18-30, 18-30), ciudadano extranjero dormido en parque publico (foreign citizen asleep in public park). Saturday had just dawned.  It was a new way to start the day.

The previous day I had arrived in Havana from ostentatious Cancun in a Russian Yakolev jet. As I roared down the autopista from the airport towards the city in a cab, passing 50s Buicks and Fords, crumbling buildings and wide billboards promulgating socialist propaganda -´the party is not privilege, it is sacrifice´- it occurred to me that the Yakolev had not just been a mode of travelling through space but also of time – an ersatz time machine. I…

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