To the west of Cubanacán is the district of Siboney, a mixed residential zone that is also the heart of scientific research in Cuba. Known as the Polo Científico del Oeste (Scientific Pole of the West), the complex comprises some 30 buildings belonging to 12 institutions, and research is carried out in the spheres of pharmaceutics, genetic engineering and biotechnology. Some remarkable progress has been made here in the 30 or so years since the initiative was set up and Cuba has come up with various vaccines, including significant progress in the battles against AIDS and cancer.
The rambling streets and boulevards of Siboney include tree-shaded areas of deluxe 1950s mansions and, south of Avenida 23, more open zones of dour post-Revolution pre-fab apartment units. This is a heavily militarized zone, as Fidel and Raúl Castro live here, along with many high-level government personnel.
Back down on Quinta Avenida, the boulevard extends westwards in the direction of Jaimanitas. Between Calles 188 and 292, at Punta Cero, you’ll see another reminder of the good old, bad old days: Club Habana (see pxxx). Peviously the Havana Biltmore Yacht and Country Club, it opened in 1928 to cater for the refined tastes of Havana’s all-white elite. The club, with its gorgeous white beach, once again serves private members—mostly foreign expats residing in Cuba—although it now belongs to the Coast Guard, whose main base occupies the club’s former golf course. A tunnel links the base to Fidel Castro’s home, just 400 meters inland but well guarded from public view.
Immediately beyond Club Habana, the village of Jaimanitas is famously the setting of ‘Fusterlandia’—a community arts project surrounding the home and studio of José Fuster, an astonishingly prolific ceramicist, painter and engraver. His eccentrically decorated home/studio and garden, in a style reminiscent of Gaudí, draws a steady stream of visitors. Jaimanitas extends west to the Río Jaimanitas (lned with funky fishing vessels), beyond which is Marina Hemingway, Cuba’s main marina.