Colours of Havana

 

 

There are so many things to take back from Cuba. Only a few matter – forget the rum, the cigars, the trinkets from the souvenir shops for a minute and just walk, walk endlessly through the streets, all day. Soak it all in, get a renewed appreciation of colours. The buildings falling apart, fixed a little here and there with whatever is available, a constant patchwork of colours and styles. The faded paints, bleached by the sun, washed away by the rain a sudden burst of colour bringing everything to life. Sometimes it’s just as little as a window, a mural on the wall, a basket of mangoes.

Havana constantly reinvents itself. These beautiful American vintage cars? Spare parts are rare. You might very well have a beautiful, original shell but a modern engine underneath. Or a completely different dashboard from the brand indicated inside. It’s not so much about recycling, more about being clever with what you have. Cans being crushed flat with a stick on the pavement? They will be put together to make a kind of insulation layer in furniture, fences, walls. Mattresses being pulled apart, springs cut away from it? These will be used for repairs. I’m told it’s quite something to watch a Cuban crafter open one, take the filling out, weld a few things back, refill and sew everything back by hand in 20 minutes max!

The fashion blends in wonderfully in this vibrant Havana. Colours don’t clash here, they complement each other, no matter how bright. Neon green trousers, blinding yellow, heart-warming orange… One in a while, you will glimpse a more daring touch – An Elvis Presley hair style, glossy black hair with just a little emerald green. Purple eyebrows. These are rare  but make you realise Havana could compete with London if it wanted to…

 

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