A weekend at the beach “a lo cubano”

When the snow is thick on the ground in Canada and the skies have been grey over England for months, groups of young Cubans head to the beach. A frente frio, or cold front, does not stop the youth from enjoying the benefits of living in a tropical island paradise. As much as you may like to pretend that the sun is shining, the water is warm, and the beach is packed with beautiful women sunbathing, the reality of the situation is much, much different. And it is for this reality, that rum was invented.

Cubans have endured many trials and tribulations that many could not imagine, but they are not known for having an English sense of stoicism in the face of bad weather. So when the worst cold front of the season hit Cuba at the end of February, I presumed that our beach trip would be postponed. After all, Guanabo (a small beach town West of Havana) seems a lot less fun at 12 °C (53.6 °F). I was wrong. There was no turning back: we had booked and paid for our house. All we could hope was that a bottle of rum or two could help sort things out.

We left late –probably due to that second bottom of rum –and it was already midnight when we arrived in the midst of a cold rain. The street where our house was supposed to be had no numbers, so we were forced to circle many times in order to find our comfortable abode. There were fifteen of us: how many rooms? How many beds? Who needs sleep anyway?

Morning beckoned at 10am. We donned gloves and hats, thick jackets and triple layers. We were not English after all. So what do you do? The answer was simple: we talked we sang, we danced and, of course, we drank. The bottles were all empty by daybreak.

The next morning, the sun finally made its appearance. We ran to the beach, already backing hot in our bathing suits. The sun will stay out, the sea will be warm, and the rum will still be cold. Rain or shine, hot or cold, young Cubans still enjoy a weekend at the beach.


  • Paseo del Prado

    Paseo del Prado  LH 5+

    In colonial times, this promenade received several names, including Nuevo Prado, Alameda de Extramuros, Paseo de Isabel II and Paseo del Prado, and with cuba’s independecne, it became Paseo de Martí. …

    Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes – Edificio de Arte Cubano

    Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes – Edificio de Arte Cubano  LH 5

    Edificio de Arte Cubano – The Cuban collection The 30,000 plus pieces that form the Cuban collection is divided into six basic sections: Colonial Art (from the 16th to the 19th century), with a room d …

    Plaza de San Francisco

    Plaza de San Francisco  LH 5+

    Right across Havana harbor, Plaza de San Francisco is one of the first three built in the 16th century. It takes its name from the Franciscan convent built there. The plaza became the site of a market …

    Plaza Vieja

    Plaza Vieja  LH 5+

    The 16th-century Plaza Vieja has always been a residential rather than a military, religious or administrative space, and is surrounded by elegant colonial residences, combined with a few very strikin …

    Cámara Oscura

    Cámara Oscura  LH 5

    Located on the top floor of the eclectic-style early 20th-century Edificio Gómez Vila—the plaza’s tallest building (35 meters/115 feet)—on the northeast corner, the Cámara Oscura provides a 360-degree …

    Jardín Botánico Nacional

    Jardín Botánico Nacional  LH 5+

    These 600-hectare botanical gardens feature approximately 150,000 examples of 4,000 different species of trees and bushes from all over the world. A tractor train ride around the park departs four tim …

    Santa María del Mar

    Santa María del Mar  LH 5

    Santa María is the most popular beach among both Habaneros and visitors. It has lodgings, restaurants, watersports hire, grocery stores and a pharmacy. As with the other beahes, it boasts soft, white …

    Almacenes de San José

    Almacenes de San José  LH 5

    This former harborside warehouse was built in 1885 and is considered the oldest depository in Old Havana. The sober and imposing façade that looks out onto the city conceals the building’s steel struc …

    Arte Corte (Papito’s)

    Arte Corte (Papito’s)  LH 5+

    Established about eight years ago, Arte Corte is a hairdressing salon that is also an “interactive museum” where the customer, while comfortably seated in a hundred year-old chair awaiting their turn, …

    Plaza de la Catedral

    Plaza de la Catedral  LH 5+

    The last of the main squares to be created, this is one of Old Havana’s most beautiful spots. Originally, it was named Plaza de la Ciénaga (Swamp Square) because of its muddy terrain, but by the 18th …

    1 of 4 pages »