In a small pocket of downtown Havana, off the mainstream tourist track (albeit still in the guidebooks), past the artistically quaint run down Havana, is a corner of Cuban art that is well worth the adventure outside of the turista region.
A lesser known tourist destination, Callejon Hamel, 1 block of Afro-Cuban, Santeria inpired art, is a sight to behold.
Here’s a sneak peak….
This being our 2nd trip to Havana, Paul and I wanted to venture off the tour bus and see areas of Havana that the “real Cuban life” tour fails to show Varadero resort tourists. Walking past Floridita’s, past El Capitolio, past the line-ups of locals waiting to enter stores or fixing broken ladas, we saw a Havana that defied the romantic notions of Havana being a dirty, run down, glory.
No, this Havana was poor and definitely recalled communist stereotypes/images of Russia during the Cold War era.
But despite this, there is still something about Havana. Maybe it’s the sense that this city could be great, that it was great, or that, with a few coats of paint, it would just be amazing. It has Nice like potential, but with Cuban heart.
So by this point you’ve seen pictures of everything other than what I really meant to show you! Enough of a lead up already, right? You want pictures of Callejon Hamel!
Remember, the art is inspired by Santeria so some of the images might strike you as unusual…
From images of Orishas, to repurposed Cuba goods, the art is colourful and unique!
A photo for my fellow Nanamoites (Nanaimoians? ok, just people from Nanaimo, BC) can appreciate! Perhaps only those who grew up with up with repurposed bathtubs and bathtub races can fully admire the recycling going on here as fully as I do!
Just to complete the sense that this little corner of Havana was a mini oasis in the blistering July heat:
If you ever venture into Havana… you should go. It was really lovely and extremely interesting (at least I thought so!).