Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Hotel Nacional, Havana

Our home base while in Havana was the elegant and historic Hotel Nacional,
described in my guide book as "the cherry on the cake of Cuban hotels" - 
and the flagship of the government-run Gran Caribe chain.
It's neoclassical/neocolonial/art deco vibe should also make it a contender
for the description of "a hot mess" - 
but somehow it all works.

While it doesn't have all the bells and whistles many Westerners are used to,
it has charm in abundance and history at every turn.
It sits on a hill overlooking the Malecon - the boulevard running along the coast-
from which you can see not only tranquil vistas 
but the American Embassy.
 The embassy is the small building in the center of the picture.
Here, I'll make it easier for you to see.
Not much, right?
 The hoopla going on in front of the building was for a free concert
that Diplo was giving the people of Havana one of the nights we were there.
If you're my age, your first question is probably 
"What the hell is a Diplo?"
But maybe that was just me...
seems he's a DJ from the States, a techno guy
very hip.
(There's no way you can tell me Diplo is his given name - 
his mother must be mortified.)
 He also had invited his good friend, Charlie Rose to the concert - 
and Charlie just happened to be staying on my floor of the hotel!
 I actually met him and shook his hand!
Be still my heart.

Despite his young associate suggesting that I act 'cool' when he introduced us,
it wasn't possible. 
I've never been one of the cool kids 
and its hard to be cool when you're practically drooling.
I mean, the man is the only reason I watch network news in the morning at all!
It was Charlie Rose for Gods sake!
I didn't get a photo; that would have been intrusive but I can tell you
he's much taller and more handsome that he looks on TV -
or maybe it was just that he was more relaxed 
and probably in Cuba just to enjoy some music and mojitos 
while trying to escape his crazy fans in the US -
sorry, Charlie.

Anyway, we had a great view of seeing the masses descend on the concert site
 and couldn't help but hear the music since it was being blasted all over the city.
I can now honestly say I was at a Diplo concert.
With a little more practice, I might be a cool kid after all.
 Yeah, never mind;
it's not happening.
The sun has set on that dream.

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