Thursday of Week 2

So, it is averaging 32 degrees hot here, a little on the boil side and I would be happer if it was a simmering 27 degrees and that is how we start our days at 6am

Today we free roamed into Old Town, a good 35 mins gentle meandering that took about an hour if you add in stopping for photography. We we aiming for the cigar factory to see how it was all made, this was the place you bought cigars, we were lead across marbel floors to an understairs cupboard where boxes were shown and prices negotiated. An hour into the start of our day and we needed water and a cool shady respite of a cafe, and Matt had a couple of mini chocolate coissants. The Center has the Capitol building where Putin paid for gold layers to be added to the dome.

Next stop was an art gallery but we never quite got there as we fell into a 2 hour car tour that included stops to pick up proper rum, the kind you use to toast special events, some Churchill cigars, a Holiday Hat for Matt to add to his colletion and many facts by an affable cuban who had spent many years in America. We had mojetots at a bar. The many facts of our tour included the Telegraph Hotel which sent the first telegraph, a street of embassys including one for North Korea and the UK, Hemmingways Hotel, many buildings owned/built by the maffia. We learnt the average wage is 25-35 dollars per month, that schooling was compulsory as was joining the army - 1 year if you are in higher level education or 3 years if you were a skilled laborer. This happens when you are 20. A new constitution was signed in which meant that the prime minister was referred to as the President but you dont vote for them, you vote for the party. The President is a young fellow and his term lasts four years. You cant be President if you are over 60.

The town (well every street we have seen so far leading into the capitol building) is a mix of bright colours over buildings, old cars that are lovingly restored. Some buildings are beautiful but many buildings are just about standing upright with the help of layers of dirt and dust. Music fills every street and weaves everyone together. We are frequently approached with greetings of "Happy Holidays, followed swiftly by where are you from, then either asking if want a taxi, or help to find somewhere or to buy a big cigar which we know are fake replicas. Everyone is warm and friendly and I am picking up words in spanish.

The waves of hot air are filled with spices or the smell of very ripe cooking bins and if you are near one when a bag is thrown in, a cloud of flies will momentarily fill the sky as they are displaced before and settling back in to feast.

We queued for an age to get to the ATM, and they are not many of them across the capital. People queue outside shops for supplies but they can't shop like we do. They stand behind glass cases and can't really reach any shelves. Matt found a camera store and a good camera costs 4000 cuc (about 3300 pounds).

We used MapMe to find our way home again, and in the heat, each step felt sticky. We found a little corner cafe full of fans and ordered queso pizza which is a simple cheese pizza, they didnt have water but we pointed at cans of orange juice and we chugged down two.

The evening was gentle and planning the scavenger hunt for tomorrow which needs to include a holiday hat as I am getting roasted. There was a rare blast of rain, with fat hot dropplets, and humidity is 82 percent.