After several failed attempts, I realised that I would not be able to upload any of my clips to YouTube with the words Havana or Cuba in the title or tags. This is presumably because placing in the public domain any evidence that socialism can be fun is clearly tantamount to trading with the enemy. Beyond pathetic really.
This would not have been a problem back in the USSR; I am yet to visit a place packed full of more miserable so-and-sos than the Moscow of 1984. But the Cubans are undoubtedly a jolly bunch and this city throbs every night to the sound of their music-making.
Even officialdom can be fun here. As I passed through the final security checks at Jose Martí International, several smiling X-Ray machine operators pointed out a colleague of theirs sitting at a nearby wooden desk and told me that the oil painting I was carrying in a cardboard tube would needed to be reviewed by this representative of 'La Policía del Patrimonio'. As soon as I made my way over to this nonplussed-looking individual, they all cracked up laughing. (Try telling Homeland Security to lighten up a bit and you are just asking for the full cavity search.)
Whatever 'Papa' Hemingway's well known preferences, my favourite watering hole in La Habana Vieja ended up being this one: La Lluvia de Oro on Obispo. And, let's face it, the Floridita, birthplace of the daiquirí, is a pink-walled establishment serving what Anthony Bourdain sagely describes as a girly cocktail — so one has to wonder what Ernest saw in it. In short it is not the kind of place any self respecting repressed puritan would normally select for starting a bar fight.