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Havana In My Heart: An Excerpt from Part II Coming Soon

Havana is a proud beautiful city even if it is in decay.
It breathes of an incredibly rich history filled with gambling, mobsters, whores and em-passioned dreams that have been left to rot in the shadows of Castro’s reign.

It is a world of its own, both ancient and contemporary, filled with seemingly infinite contradictions. Street vendors, bent over and crooked, cackle across the city pushing carts of vegetables or pastries, while teenagers with facial piercings and tight clothes saunter by with cell phones glued to their ears.

Modernity is approaching.

You can almost smell it in the air mixed with the aromas of coffee, piss and cigar smoke.

The city unfolds through the car window in a flurry of faces, smells, and sounds The men look directly into my eyes It feels as if they can see right through me They meet my eyes fearlessly with an intense, animalistic, sexual hunger that both scares me and excites me at the same time The women rarely meet my gaze

Undeniably, Havana has a unique odor It smells of organic decay and diesel fuel Somehow, for me, it only adds to the charm rather than detracting from it It never seems overpowering, but more like a backdrop that keeps your senses alive We cruise slowly into the heart of Central Havana on skinny cobblestone streets packed with bike taxis, food vendors and pedestrians The music blasting from the windows of the car goes unnoticed by those we pass This is Cuba after all

Havana is a city of total contrast everywhere I look One corner boasts majestic proud buildings of near museum quality On the next, I see decaying piles of rubble We are driving deep into the heart of Central Havana The energy is intense, but light at the same time Children are playing soccer in the streets barefooted Piles of overflowing trash are waiting to be picked up by the truck that is cruising behind us The garbage men, who are bare chested, skinny men, call out playfully to the children as they toss bags of refuse into the back of the trash truck

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