OF FLORIDA LIBRARY
THIS VOLUME HAS BEEN
MICROFMI1.ED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA LIBRARIES.
PAST AND PRESENT
A. HYATT VERRILL
Author of "Porto Rico Past and Present and
San Domingo of To-day," "An American
Revised Edition with 1919 facts and figures
WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS
DODD, MEAD & COMPANY
By Dodd, Mead & Company, Inc.
PRixTED iN U. S. A.
CUBA OF THE PAST ......... ..
Discovery of Cuba, Its early history, Settlements, Attacks by Pirates, Wars, Revolutions, American intervention.
II GEOGRAPHY AND CHARACTERISTICS 11
Size, Surface Coast, Area, Fauna, Flora, FeAity, Resources, Wealth, Exports,
Populaton, Condition, Health Climate.
III LOOKING FORWARD .... 20
Cuba's health and sanitation, Its conditions under Spanish rule, Education, Modern methods, Imnprovements, Settlers in Cuba, The future of Cuban. agriculture and development.N 28
IV LA HABANA . .. .
Havana fr th a, Th&-,harbor and
docks, Shippg, line o Havana,
Streets, House Carr es and tfc, Central Park, Shops d es; CohePrado, Strolls about avana, e Maledo and
Vedado, Jail and ther ldings, A drive through the city, arke Colon Park, Cigar factories, Plaz de rmas, Monuments and plazas, Government ildings and ancient forts, Cathedral and Columbus,
Cemetery, Botanic gardens, Walls.
V HAVANA LIFE AND CUSTOMS 55
How to keep healthy, Taking things easy,
Getting about, Carriage hire, Language, Money, Tips, Theatres, Lottery, Bathing, Country Club, CafM life, Native beverages, Cafes, Water, Fashions and dress, Peddlers,
VI THE SUBURBS OF HAVANA 7
The Morro and Cabana, Marianao and its beach, Guanajay and the rural districts, Regla and Guanabacoa, Cojimar and Casa Blanca, Auto roads, Madruga, Guines, Sugar
mills, Cotorro, Special excursions.
VII PLACES OF INTEREST AND HOW TO
REACH THEM ..... ........ 88
Trolley car service, Alphabetical list of interesting spots, Churches, Theatres.
VIII THE PROVINCES OF CUBA *. 112
Pinar del Rio, Havana, Matanzas, Santa
Clara, Camaguey, Oriente.
IX THROUGH THE INTERIOR ... ....120
Travel by the Cuba Railway, The interior towns. Character of the country, Industries and resources, Scenery, Historical interest, The Trocha, Forest growths, American colonies, Pirates, Scenes of battles, Lumbering,
Mountain scenery, Santiago suburbs.
X SANTIAGO AND ITS ENVIRONS. 138
The suburbs, Morro, The city streets, Cqyo Smith, Hotels and restaurants, Churches, Drives and roads, El Caney, San Juan Hill, The Peace tree, Cobre and the image of
Nuestra Sefiora de la Caridad.
XI THE SOUTHERN COAST AND ISLE OF
PINES .... ........... 149
The Sierra Maestre, Manzanillo and Bayamo, The Gardens of the Queen, Jucaro, Tunas de Zaza, Casilda and Trinidad, The City of a hundred fires, Batabano the "Little Venice," The Isle of Pines.
XII MATANZAS AND THE NORTHERN
PORTS .... ............ 167
Matanzas and the "Vale of Paradise:' Cardenas. Sagua la Grande, Caibarien, San Fernando, Nuevitas and La Gloria, Puerto Padre and Chaparra, Gibara the landfall of Columbus, Holguin, Nipe Bay and Antilla,
Baracoa, the first settlement.
XIII THE HIGHROADS OF CUBA . . 186
XIV COMMERCIAL AND FINANCIAL CUSTOMS ........ ........ 19
XV CUBA'S MODEL CLUB. t. w 908
XVI HOTELS, RESTAURANTS AND OTHER
ITEMS ..... ............ 916
Hotels and their rates, Restaurants and cafrs, What to eat and drink, Spanish dishes and their equivalents, Hotels in the interior.
XVII A FEW FACTS AND FIGURES. . 225 Area and population, Temperature and rainfall, Health, Value of commerce, agriculture; Land and opportunities for investment; Schools and transportation.
XVIII CUBA'S SHARE IN THE GREAT WAR 286
A Cuban Road .................. Frontispiece
"Loma del Angel," the Narrowest Street in
Church of the Angels, Havana .............80
In Colon Park, Havana ...................38
Central Park and Gallegos Club, Havana.. 58 A Vendor of Fowls, Havana ...............70
The Bamboo River, Cuba .................82
The "Templete," Havana ................106
Loading Cane, Santa Clara ...............122
Peon's House in Camaguey ................130
The Morro, Santiago ....................140
Monuments at San Juan Hill .............. 148
A Settler's Home in the Isle of Pines ....... 156 Plowing with a Crooked Stick ............ 180
The Pinar del Rio Highroad .............. 188
Road in Santiago Province ...............196
CUBA, with its splendid climate, its tropical verdure, its quaint old-world towns and its historic associations has long been a favourite resort for tourists and travellers. Long before the SpanishAmerican War or the destruction of the Maine, thousands of Americans and Europeans annually visited Cuba, and despite the drawbacks and disagreeable features of the Island under Spanish rule they were charmed with the climate and surroundings and raved over the life, colour and atmosphere of Havana and Santiago.
With the expulsion of the Spaniards and the end of the Spanish dominion in Cuba the Island rapidly improved, and under American rule and later its own Republican administration, Cuba's popularity increased until at the present time it is one of the greatest of winter resorts in the Western Hemisphere.
Under Spanish rule the visitor practically took his life in his hands if he visited Cuba for any
length of time. The towns and cities were filthy; yellow fever and other dread diseases stalked unchecked and unhindered everywhere; thugs and brawlers lurked in the dark unlit streets and along the water-fronts and at any time rumours of an insurrection or the suspicions of the Spanish officials were liable to place a foreigner in jeopardy of his. life and liberty.
To-day all this is changed. Cuba's streets are as clean and neat as any in the world; disease has been stamped out and the Island can boast of being the second healthiest country in the world; the water-front and the slums are ablaze with electric lights, are thoroughly policed and one is as safe as on upper Fifth Avenue in any part of the Island, while palatial hotels and every modern convenience make life in Havana as comfortable, luxurious and pleasant as the most exacting traveller could wish.
Nevertheless many Americans still associate the Tropics with disease, dirt and discomfort and cannot realise that within three days of New York there is a smiling, luxuriant tropic land teeming with life and business, radiant with colour and
light and combining the enchantment of oriental Spain with the luxuries, progressiveness and inprovements of twentieth-century America.
Although Cuba is best known and is most to be recommended as a winter resort, yet in midsummer it has its attractions and many visitors find Cuba far more admirable in summer than in winter. At this season it is hot in the large coast towns it is true, but in the interior it is pleasant, and nowhere on the Island does the temperature soar into the nineties as it does in New York and our Northern towns.
Moreover, in the summer, tropical fruits are at their best, flowers deck the country with a riot of colour and the miles of poinciana trees form masses of living flame, a gorgeous scene never dreamed of by those who have seen the Tropics only in the winter season.
To tell just what the visitor to Cuba may expect, just how to see the various points of interest, how to travel from place to place, what to do and what not to do, is the object of this book. The aim of the author has been to paint Cuba as it really is,- not as the steamship fold-
ers or the hotel advertisements would have us believe; and not to exaggerate its attractions nor to disparage it. Over a score of years ago the author visited Cuba and saw it at its worst under Spanish rule and on the brink of a devastating war, and with all its faults, all its drawbacks and all its disagreeable features he found it fascinating beyond words.
Again be has visited the Island and has seen it at its best; Cuba ruled by its own people; Cuba prosperous, modernised and rejuvenated; and while much of the old has been lost, the loss has been Cuba's gain, and Cuba, with its life, its customs and its atmosphere, is still the fascinating land of enchantment as of yore.
Aside from Cuba's attractions to the tourist, the traveller or the health-seeker, there are vast opportunities for American settlers on the Island. Many Americans have made their homes in Cuba and many more are yearly emigrating to its shores.
In the present volume the author has paid particular attention to this phase of Cuba, and has set forth the actual conditions, facts and figures
as he found them and as furnished from absolutely reliable sources, and he feels confident that in this work the prospective settler in Cuba, the tourist or the casual visitor will find a vast amount of useful and valuable information never before compiled in any popular handbook of Cuba.
PAST AND PRESENT
CUBA OF THE PAST
IT was on October 28, 1492, that Columbus first sighted the beautiful island we now call Cuba and landed upon its northern coast. Although the great admiral was impressed with the marvellous fertility and beauty of this "Queen of the Antilles" and wrote that it was the "most beautiful land that human eyes have ever seen," he never circumnavigated the Island merely landing on the south shore at a later visit, 1502- and he died in 1506, believing that Cuba was a continent or a portion of Asia.
In 1508 the Spaniards, under Sebastian de Ocampo, explored the entire coastline of Cuba, demonstrating that it was an island, and on this trip the harbour of Havana was discovered. Here Ocampo careened his ships, pitching them with the soft asphalt still found in the hills of Guanabacoa and from this fact he named the bay
2 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
"Puerto de Carenas" or "Port of Careening." At this time the Island was inhabited by numbers of naked, peaceful, friendly savages, much like those of the Bahamas, while the verdure and luxuriance of the land filled the Spaniards with wonder.
The Island was at first named "Juana" in honour of the Prince John, son of Ferdinand and Isabella; but at the death of the king it was changed to "Fernandina." Later it was again altered to Santiago" after the patron saint of Spain, and still later it was again changed to "Ave Maria" after the Virgin Mary. The present name "Cuba" was the name by which the Island was known to the native Indians and which freely translated signifies a "jar of oil."
In 1511 another expedition, under command of Don Diego Velasquez and consisting of four ships and about 300 men, set out from Santo Domingo for Cuba. This expedition was sent forth by Diego Columbus, the son of Christopher, who was then governor of Hispaniola, and with the fleet sailed Don Hernando Cortes, who later became famous as the conqueror of Mexico.
CUBA OF THE PAST $
Velasquez landed first at a port on the southern coast which he named Las Palmas and which was near the present town of Guantanamo, but this was not deemed a favourable spot for a settlement and it was not until 1512 that the town of Baracoa was founded on the northern coast. After seeing Baracoa established, Velasquez sailed to the southern coast and founded Bayamo and Trinidad, and finally entered the magnificent harbour of Santiago which he founded in 1514.
In 1515 Velasquez established a settlement at the mouth of the Guines River on the southern coast which he called San Cristoval de Habana," but the name was in 1519 transferred to the present Havana and San Cristoval became known as Batabano.
In 1519 a number of settlers were transferred from Batabano to the present site of Havana and their landing place may still be seen at a small chapel called the "Templete," while near at hand is a silk-cotton tree a scion of the original ceiba under which the first mass was said at the landing.
Havana soon became a very important port,
4 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
for it was in a commanding position and ships passing through the Florida Channel or from Central American and Mexican ports made it their place of call. Its richness and prosperity soon attracted the attention of the freebooters who sailed the Spanish Main and early in its history the city was sacked by the pirates repeatedly.
In fact, the early records of Cuba are almost wholly devoted to relating accounts of the manner in which the settlements were plundered and destroyed by pirates from England, Holland, and France.
The importance of the town and its unprotected condition soon made it apparent that strong fortifications were necessary, and in 1528 work was begun on two strong castles known as the Bateria de la Puntal" or the "Battery of the Point," and the La Fuerza or "Fort"1; both of which may still be seen with their ancient, mellow-tinted walls and quaint lantern-like sentry boxes. These two forts, together with the enormous castle known as the "1Morro," on the opposite shore of the harbour, were not, however, completed for nearly a century and were still unfinished whep
CUBA OF THE PAST 5
Sir Francis Drake threatened the city in 1585 and 1592 and when the Dutch buccaneers arrived in 1628.
In 1538 Havana was totally destroyed by French privateers and to prevent another similar disaster, work on the fortifications was pushed diligently and the Fuerza was completed under the direction of Fernando de Soto in 1539. Again in 1554 the French sailed upon Havana which they attacked and reduced to ashes, despite the forts, and soon afterwards the additional fortresses of "1La Punta and El Morro were completed; but it was not until 1665 that the city walls were begun and the city really became free from frequent pillage.
From the time of the completion of the forts and walls Havana became almost impregnable and in its harbour countless ships and galleons lay safely at anchor while its streets were filled with throngs of people and its residences were occupied by many an illustrious grandee and famous conquistador. Here died Ponce de Leon, founder of Porto Rico and discoverer of Florida, who was brought to Cuba fatally wounded by An Indian
6 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
arrow; here Pamphilo de Narvarez outfitted his ill-fated expedition that in 1528 penetrated Florida and disappeared forever; and from Havana's harbour sailed forth in 1539 the greatest of all the expeditions- that of De Soto. With pomp and ceremony, the blare of trumpets, fluttering banners and hundreds of mail-clad men, the ships set out; but the leader was left resting beneath the waters of the Mississippi while poor Dofia Isabel
- De Soto's wife gazed westward from Havana's parapets and watched through weary months for the return of the ships, finally dying of a broken heart as she realised the fate that had befallen them.
Until 1608 Santiago was still the capital of Cuba, in which year the seat of government was transferred to Havana, where it has remained ever since.
Santiago was as frequently attacked by pirates as Havana before the Morro and other forts were completed, and in 1553 a French privateer invaded the harbour and for two days fought a desperate battle with a Spanish cruiser, only to retreat on the third day disabled and in an almost
CUBA OF THE PAST 7
sinking condition. The same year a force of 400 French buccaneers attacked and captured the town, held it for a month and only withdrew upon the payment of an $80,000.00 ransom. A similar fate also befell Havana in 1534 and 1554 and again in 1624, the French and Dutch in turns cap.turing and holding the town for ransoms.
Not alone from freebooters and sea rovers did the Cubans suffer. Europe was constantly in a state of war and in 1662 the English attacked Santiago with nearly 1,000 men, carried off' all the treasures, slaves, church bells and guns from the forts and left the town penniless, destitute and at the mercy of any enemy. The city soon recovered, however, and in 1663 the Morro was rebuilt and through storm and flood, stress and war, has withstood the shower of shot and shell, of earthquake and of hurricane, and still stands frowning, grim and defiant upon the lofty cliffs above the entrance of the harbour it has guarded so well.
Havana has not at all times been Spanish, however, for in 1762 Lord Albermarle, with a fleet of over 200 ships and an army of some 15,000
8 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
men, assisted by colonial troops from New England with Old Wolf Putnam in command of a regiment, arrived off the harbour. The Spaniards, completely taken by surprise and entirely unprepared for an invasion, hastily assembled a few troops and for nearly a month put up a determined and obstinate Tesistance. On July 3 the Morro was blown up and partly destroyed and the English from this point trained their guns on the city forts which were obliged to surrender on August 14. For a year Havana was under British domain but it cost England and her colonies dearly, for no less than 30,000 lives and $16,000,000.00 were required to capture the city, which in the following year was exchanged for Florida.
For nearly a century Cuba prospered- almost undisturbed by foreign or domestic troubles,- although the misrule, cruelty and oppressiveness of the Spaniards gradually paved the way for rebellion, slaughter and the ultimate loss of the Island to the crown of Spain.
So unbearable had the condition of the Cubans
CUBA OF THE PAST 9
become that in 1848 the United States offered Spain $100,000,000.00 for Cuba but the offer was refused, whereupon the Cubans commenced preparations for open rebellion.
The Narciso Lopez outbreaks in 1850 and '51 were futile and many lives were lost, but in 1868 a rebellion blazed forth which lasted through ten long years, ravaged the Island from end to end and was terminated only by the treaty known as the Peace of Zanjon which Spain soon abrogated.
Although important reforms were promised they were never fulfilled and in 1895 the most formidable of all rebellions broke out in the Island.
This revolution soon grew to such an extent that in 1905 Marshal General Campos was sent out from Spain, but in suppressing the rebellion he failed and the notorious "Butcher" Weyler succeeded him. Although Weyler did everything in human power to suppress the revolution -resorting to inconceivable cruelties and the most extreme measures yet the rebellion steadily grew in extent, while Weyler was succeeded by Blanco; the war continued, and the culmination came in
10 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
1898 with the destruction of the Maine in Havana harbour.
Within one hundred days thereafter Cuba was freed from Spain and on the first of January, 1899, Blanco and the last Spanish soldiers set sail for Spain and the Stars and Stripes waved from the ancient forts and buildings over which for so many years had flaunted the red and yellow banner of Castile and Leon.
For three years Cuba remained an American possession and under the military government of the United States a wonderful work of reformation, reconstruction, sanitation, and improvement was carried out, until on May 9.0, 1902, Tomas Estrada Palma took his office as first president of Cuba Libre and the Island was launched forth as a new republic with a glorious future, unwonted prosperity and untold resources before it.
GEOGRAPHY AND CHARACTERISTICS
CUBA the very name conjures visions of romance, beautiful women, soft music-filled nights and cigars, and were the truth known in the minds of most people cigars are more intimately associated with thoughts of Cuba than anything else.
Cuba, the "'Pearl of the Antilles," is the largest of the West Indies and is the nearest island of importance to the United States, as from Key West to Havana is less than 100 miles.
From Cape Maysi on the east to Cape San Antonio on the west, Cuba stretenes for nearly eight hundred miles and from north to south it varies in width from twenty t9 one hundred miles; the total area being about 45,000 square miles; six times the size of Jamaica or a trifle larger than the State of Pennsylvania; while, if placed on a map of the United States, it would cover a space 11
12 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
the width of New Jersey and stretching from New York -to Indianapolis.
About one-fourth of the surface is rough and mountainous, some three-fourths of the remaining area plains and rich valleys, and the. small balance swamps.
The majority of people and even those who have visited Havana imagine Cuba as a flat, rather level island. In reality, the Island is exceedingly mountainous in many places and the summits of the Sierra Maestra range in the southeastern part of the Island are among the loftiest in the West Indies; the highest peak, Pico Turquino, towering to the clouds for a height of 8,320 feet and surpassing the Blue Mountains of Jamaica by 1,00 '0 feet and second only to Loma Tina of San Domingo in altitude.
The shore line of Cuba is very broken and irregular, with numberless bays, lagoons and coves and with over 600 small islets or cays" off the north shore and over 700 off the south shore. While these islands Tender the navigation of Cuban waters dangerous and difficult yet at the same time they serve to break the force of wind and waves
LOMA DEL ANGEL"
THE NARROWEST STREET IN HAVANA
and Cuba has more good ports, for a place of its size, than any other island in the world. In fact, one of the Island's nicknames is the Isle of One Hundred Harbours," more than fifty of the harbours being ports of entry and practically landlocked.
Flowing across the broad and fertile plains from the distant mountains and emptying their waters into the Caribbean and the Atlantic, are numerous rivers, many of them broad and beautiful, but only one the Cauto, near the eastern end of the Island -being navigable for any great distance.
In many places near the coasts, and particularly in the south-central district, are large swamps, while in the eastern provinces are extensive forests and in the mountains are rich mineral deposits.
With its varied surface, its tropical climate and its rich soil, Cuba offers ideal conditions for rich and luxuriant vegetation and the flora comprises over 3,000 species, while the forests contain such valuable woods as mahogany, lignum-vitae, granadilla, sweet cedar, logwood, sandal wood, red sanders, etc.; the forest area covering nearly fifty per cent. of the Island's surface, more than
14 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
1,00,000 acres being government land. In addition, every tropical fruit, flower, plant and product thrives luxuriously in Cuba, while in the mountains and high interior plains many temperate products may be raised.
Though so rich in flora, Cuba is poor in fauna
- save for birds and insects the only native mammals being the odd Solenodon or "Almiqui and the giant tree-rat or Capromys, known locally as the "Hutia." Deer have, however, been introduced and in many districts deer hunting is a favourite pastime.
The birds of Cuba are very numerous, including over 200 species, many of them magnificently beautiful in colour, others with wonderful songs, while a number are true "game birds" and are much hunted. The marine fauna is very rich, the bays, rivers and seas abounding in food fishes, crabs, shrimps and lobsters, while manatees are found in the swamps and river mouths and shellfish and crawfish are also abundant.
Serpents and other reptiles are common but are non-poisonous. Alligators are found in the swamps, iguanas and other lizards abound, and
numerous snakes, the largest of which is the Cuban boa or maja, are common in the forests.
The insect fauna of Cuba, as in all tropical countries, is very rich and numerous, scorpions, centipedes, tarantulas, and giant cockroaches being common, while giant fireflies make the nights glorious with their myriads of twinkling, glowing lights. Of troublesome insect pests Cuba has its share, for mosquitoes, fleas, ticks and the chigo or "jigger" all occur, but are seldom troublesome to the traveller, save in outlying districts or the poor native huts.
In fertility and resources Cuba is remarkable and is exceeded only by San Domingo, and as the latter island is undeveloped a comparison of the two countries is of little value.
Even under Spanish rule Cuba was wonderfully rich and prosperous and since she has become an independent republic her commerce and industries have increased marvellously.
Indeed, Cuba is an intensely commercial country, importing nearly everything she consumes and exporting virtually all she produces. Since 1902, when the republic began, up to 1919, Cuba's for-
16 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
eign commerce has increased 500 per cent, with the balance of trade largely in favor of the republic. The United States plays a predominating role in both the export and import trade of the republic, 'buying vast quantities of sugar, tobacco, iron and copper ore, and selling to the Cuban merchants foodstuffs, textiles, boots and shoes, steel products, coal and lumber. Cuba's principal crop is sugar, next in value is tobacco, while citrus fruits, bee products, hard woods, molasses are important products which bring large returns to the native planters, many of whom are very prosperous.
Moreover, Cuba is not over-populated, for with its population of 2,700,000 there are but fiftythree persons to the square mile, as compared to 50 in Porto Rico, 425 in England, 315 in Germany, 317 in Japan, 310 in Italy, 500 in Rhode Island, 600 in Belgium and 1,000 in Bermuda, although Cuba could easily support more inhabitants to the square mile than any, of the above countries.
There is a popular belief that a large proportion of the 'Cubans are negroes or coloured, but as a
matter of fact only 30 per cent. are coloured, the balance or 70 per cent. being of pure Spanish descent or whites from other countries.
Cuba to-day is a progressive, orderly, healthy and modern country with over 5,000 schools, splendid sanitation, excellent hospitals, magnificent public institutions, and a marvellously efficient police force which has rendered the Island one of the safest places in the world. The transportation facilities consist of over 2,500 miles of steam railways, nearly 300 miles of electric railways, a thousand miles and more of splendid macadam highroads, numerous coastwise steamers and twenty-two steamers a week to the United States, not to mention the various ships sailing to South and Central America, Europe and the West Indies.
Within the past few years numbers of foreign immigrants and colonists have flocked to the Island, attracted by the low price of land and the superlatively productive soil; the average yearly immigration amounting to nearly 45,000 people. Many foreigners have taken up land in Cuba and have done well, for the native markets and for-
18 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
eign export trade demand far more than the supply of fruits, vegetables and other products raised. Garden truck yields anywhere from $100.00 to $400.00 per acre. Citrus fruits yield from $50.00 to $500.00; tobacco is planted, grown and gathered in ninety days and often brings a profit of five hundred dollars an acre; while sugar cane, on the best soil, may be cut for fifty years without transplanting. In most places, however, irrigation is necessary to insure a profitable crop of tobacco or vegetables and without it the crops are often a total loss.
In point of health Cuba is the second healthiest country in the world, Australia alone being better, with Porto Rico third, the death rate per thousand in Cuba being but 12.69, while in the United States it is 15.00. The climate though tropical is seldom oppressively hot, save in the coast towns, and the nights are usually cool and pleasant. The average range of mean temperature is but 12~ degrees F. with a July average of 82.4 and a January average of 70.8 and an extreme range of from 60 to 92. In the mountains the average temperatures are much
lower and the nights are often so cool that blankets and light overcoats are required. The rainfall is not excessive, the average being fifty-four inches a year and the winter months are usually dry with showers during the summer or rainy season. On the coasts the rainfall is far less and in the interior far more than the average given, but as compared with other tropical islands the rainfall is comparatively light.
A GREAT many people know much less about Cuba than about far distant countries, although it is so close to our shores and the real truth about this island is seldom known save to those who have actually visited it.
It is a common idea that Cuba is a veritable plague spot with a torrid temperature, unbearable in summer, and with a turbulent, undesirable people; a country covered with vast swamps where poisonous reptiles and malignant fevers lurk, and in fact a country dangerous to visit and fatal to live in save for a few days or Weeks in the tourist season.
In reality the very contrary is the case. Cuba is the second healthiest country in the world; its climate in summer never reaches the terrific, sweltering, humid heat of our Northern cities; there are no poisonous snakes; the swamps are few and
LOOKING FORWARD 21
only on the coast; fevers seldom or never occur in the interior and even in the coast towns, where formerly yellow fever and malaria abounded, the elimination of mosquitoes has stamped "Yellow Jack" from the Island and nearly wiped out malaria.
The Cubans themselves are quiet, sober, hospitable and peaceful -the very fact that for so many years they remained loyal to Spanish mis,rule proves this -but like all Latin races they are temperamental, quick-tempered, haughty, proud and inclined to be lazy and to put everything off to maiiana.
Cuba has always been famous as among the richest agricultural countries on the globe, considering the size and population of the Island. Even under Spanish military rule Cuba was highly profitable, and for over twenty years paid an annual revenue to Spain of from twenty to forty million dollars.
At that time tbere were but some 1,200,000 people on the Island and less than ten per cent, of the land was cultivated. Think of it! Little more than a million people paying an average of
22 CUBA, PAST AND, PRESENT
30,000,000 dollars annually or practically $30.00 per capita -almost as great for each inhabitant as the total per capita circulation of the United States! In no other country could such a situation be found and yet this heavily taxed and terribly mistreated people paid this enormous tribute, and, more wonderful yet, they lived, had numerous luxuries and many of them grew rich.
If such was the condition before Cuba gained her freedom, what may we not expect when under her own rule and zealously watched, guarded, and fostered by the United States. For many years Americans and other foreigners would have been glad indeed to invest money in Cuba if it could have been safely accomplished under Spanish rule; but to-day capital is flowing in with wonderful rapidity for the Cuban government is guaranteed stability by our own government and American investors are as safe in Cuba as in the United States. As the population of Cuba increases at the rate of 90,000 a year and births exceed deaths by 45,000 yearly, the population will soon double and treble and with the increase of population so also will the productiveness and resources increase.
LOOKING FORWARD 23
Each year and month and day the people are being educated, are becoming more intelligent, and are learning to improve conditions so that none can foresee or can begin to estimate what prosperity may be Cuba's in another twenty years.
With a soil unequalled in fertility, an ideal climate, health second to but one land in the world, scenery that rivals that of California and the great markets of America within three days of her doors, no country has a more brilliant prospect than the Pearl of the Antilles."
Possibly no other event since the liberation of the Island will affect the future of Cuba as much as the opening of the Panama Canal and already the benefits are being felt. All over the fertile Island modern methods and progress are pushing out the old-time, slow-going methods and conservatism and, best of all, the old-time customs are giving way not to a foreign invasion that will destroy the national character, language and traditions of -a people as in Porto Rico but to a rejuvenation, a transition and a newer, more liberal, brighter life brought about by the Cubans themselves for their own race and children.
24~ CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
Throughout the Island the crude, thatched hovel is giving place to neat cottages, the lumbering ox carts are being supplanted by spring wagons, automobiles speed over many miles of roads whereon mule-trains were formerly the only means of transportation. Wells and windmills have generally supplanted the water carts and irrigation has made countless parched acres to blossom and hear and add their bountiful crops to the Island's whole. In the old Spanish days sugar and tobacco were practically the only moneymaking crops, for the Spanish government prohibited raising many articles considered essential until the native planter had become thriftless, careless and discouraged and by the smallest possible amount of labour secured enough returns from his two crops to pay his tribute to the crown and support himself and family in comparative comfort.
With the advent of shrewd, trained agriculturalists and modern methods all this has been changed and by leaps and bounds the fertile land is being transformed into the most productive of all garden spots.
LOOKING FORWARD 25
Moreover, the Cuban is ready and willing to learn from his American neighbours, and as he sees these strangers succeed and grow rich, he too aims to do the same, and while it still remains for the American settler to lead the way to improved conditions, yet on every hand the Cuban is found at his side, learning, helping and with each mutually benefitting from the other's store of experience and knowledge.
Not all the settlers in Cuba will succeed; hard work, perseverance and patience are required, for no form of agriculture no matter where situated was ever or will be ever a get-richquick proposition.
Many settlers have, however, succeeded almost beyond belief and even in those particular lines in which the Cubans were supposed to excel all others. While Cuban tobacco has long been recognised as the finest in the world it-has often been assumed that much of its success, 'was due t o the care and cultivation which only Cubans could master. In reality, while it is perfectly true that what a Cuban does know of tobacco he knows as well or even better than any one else in the world,
26 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
the lack of education, of experience, of years of scientific research and study which have benefitted our tobacco growers has handicapped the Cuban. In one or two seasons of observation of local conditions the Northern farmer can acquire all that it has taken the Cuban generations to learn. By adding what he has thus acquired to Yankee common sense and modem scientific methods, the American can secure a better quality of tobacco than Cubans ever dreamed of and with the increased size of leaves, superior quality and greater yield come higher prices.
In the past the great drawback to Cuban agriculture has been the lack of water, for in dry seasons there was a poor crop or in wet seasons the fields were flooded; but now, with wells, windmills and irrigation systems a good crop is always assured and an abundance of water is ever at hand.
These facts are no truer of tobacco than of any other crop and while Americans are succeeding wonderfully well- where land and conditions are favourable yet the Cuban is also "making good," for the same indomitable spirit, untiring perseverance and bright hopefulness that led him
LOOKING FORWARD 27
through jungle and swamp in his fifty years' war against Spain will enable him to conquer all obstacles and to carve out a glorious future for himself and his beloved Cuba Libre."
HAVANA, first seen at sunrise from the sea, is transcendingly beautiful and a sight never to be forgotten. To the left the grim old Morro stands out boldly on its rocky promontory, while to the right the fiat-roofed, multicoloured town stretches for miles along the surf-bordered shore and bathed in the glorious rosy light of dawn the city appears like some wonderful pastel or like a scene from fairyland, in its setting of amethyst and turquoise sea, azure sky and distant green hills.
Between the Morro and the town lies a strait of deep blue water scarce two hundred yards in width and as the ship steams slowly between the guns of the ancient Punta fort and the battlements of grey old Morro, we see before us the extensive harbour. Moored to buoys and to the immense concrete docks are scores of great ocean steamships flying the flags of every nation, while a for-
LA HABANA 29
est of masts stretches for a mile or more along the waterfront where sailing vessels of every rig and country are loading and discharging cargoes at innumerable wharves and slips. Busy launches, bright coloured rowboats, clumsy droughers, fussy tugs and puffing ferryboats plough back and forth across the waters of the bay in every direction while the distant shriek of locomotive whistles, and the clang of trolley cars are borne faintly across the water from the town.
As the visitor looks upon this mass of shipping, upon the busy wharves and the teeming waterfront of the town, he realises that Havana is no small, crude, tropical town, but a huge, bustling, modem city and withal as foreign, as fascinating and as strange as any city of the old world.
A few years ago Havana presented a low, even skyline of flat-roofed houses broken only by the old grey church towers with their ancient belfries. To-day modern, fireproof hotels and office buildings rear their steel and concrete heights above the older edifices and towering smoke-belching chimneys mark the enormous electric power plant and various factories.
s0 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
Although vast changes have been wrought in Havana by the erection of modern buildings, by the repaving of streets, by the installation of trolley lines and by modern methods of sanitation, yet the town as a whole remains unaltered. The life, the people, the customs and the charm of local atmosphere are the same as a score of years ago
- modernity has improved it, has eliminated much of the bad and has robbed it of none of the good and has left it the same lovable, interesting and quaint old town as of yore.
Most of Havana's streets are narrow and lead between massive old Spanish buildings fronting directly on the narrow sidewalks, and as the traveller drives or walks towards the central plaza and the hotel district he passes by great arched doorways leading to dim mysterious patios,: by windows covered by iron bars and grillwork and by house-fronts decorated with wonderful designs in rich Spanish and Moorish tiles.
Through these narrow streets flows a constant stream of traffic; pedestrians of every class, rubber-tired coches, rumbling drays and carts, huge auto trucks, chugging automobiles and
CHURCH OF THE ANGELS, HAVANA
LA HABANA 31
clanging trolley cars. To the stranger it seems truly marvellous that so much traffic can wend its way through the narrow, congested thoroughfares and one constantly expects collisions and blockades ; but the traffic officers are efficient, the drivers skilful and everything goes smoothly and without interruption and accidents seldom occur.
Among the first unusual things which attract th. attention of the visitor are the numerous canvas canopies stretched across the streets and which form a veritable covered way between the buildings on either side. Unlike our Northern awnings, thse Cuban affairs are far above the sidewalks and are gaily decorated with paintings, signs and fringes and give the appearance of an Oriental bazaar to Havana's shopping district.
Passing through these narrow, busy, downtown streets the visitor at last comes out upon the Central Plaza or Parque Central "- the centre of Havana and the spot from which the main thoroughfares and trolley lines radiate. Around this great open space are the numerous hotels and club houses, enormous stores and many theatres. The park itself is a lovely spot,- a place filled
832 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT with palms, flowering shrubs, beds of bright-hued plants, and surrounded and shaded by scarletflowered flambeau trees. In the centre is the splendid statue of the martyred patriot Marti while innumerable electric lights transform the night into day, benches and settees are scattered under the trees and on certain evenings a band plays in the centre.
On all four sides of the plaza are huge buildings, prominent among them being the modern fireproof Hotel Plaza, the Bazaar de Paris, the Asturias Club, the old Inglaterra Hotel and the wonderfully ornate and beautiful Gallego Club,- a clubhouse built by clerks and workingmen and costing over a million dollars.
Here, about the park, centres the gay night life, the theatre crowds and much of the business and traffic of Havana and here, perhaps better than, anywhere else in the city, can the visitor find constant interest and amusement and can best see and appreciate Havana and the Havanese.
Each of the several blocks which surround the park is occupied by a single massive building two or three stories in height, and surrounded by an
LA HAB3ANA St3
arcade formed of great pillars or columns leaving arched openings between.
Under this shady colonnade one may wander in cool comfort and shop at the booths and stores that occupy the ground floor while on the street without the sun blazes down in tropical fervour and the air palpitates with heat.
These arcades or bazaars are typical of Havana and are most interesting and fascinating places. All the stores open directly on the sidewalk, their doorways merely broad arches which are covered by rolling iron screens at night and here people shop, eat, drink and are shaved in full view of the passing throngs and practically in the open air. From side to side of the great buildings,- and often diagonally as well,- run passageways bordered by booths and small shops and here one sees the stock in trade of merchants of every conceivable kind. Clothing and shoe dealers are, however, in the majority and one marvels how so many shoes can be sold, even in a city the size of Havana. There are shoes of every style, shape, colour and class; thousands upon thousands of shoes; shoes on the floor, shoes in cases, shoes in
&h~ CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
Piles behind the counters and shoes hung up and down upright posts until the whole place seems a veritable forest of some strange trees bearing countless shoes as fruit. How many shoes there are in even one of these bazaars is pure guesswork but a single shopkeeper confessed to thirty thousand dollars' worth and there are shoe-shops by the score in a single building.
One may wander about one of these arcades and purchase any manner of article, for hats, chinaware, laces, toys, embroideries, musical instruments, groceries, tobacco and cigars, souvenirs and saddles are side by side and between the stores proper are numerous restaurants, cafis and barber shops.
Very different are the stores in the busy shopping districts of the town. In Calle, O'Reilly or Calle Obispo one walks along beneath the shade of awnings and sees stare after store with great plate glass windows, elaborate brass and mahogany fronts and every modern convenience and a visit to Cuba would indeed be incomplete without many many hours spent in these quaint streets with their wonderful array of shops. One meet
LA HABANA 85
with constant surprises and new experiences in Havana and in visiting the stores we will find many amusing and odd customs. It seems strange to a Northerner to find a store selling rosaries, crucifixes and lottery, tickets or to see bicycles, clocks and sewing machines in the same window or to find guns and ammunition sold in a confectionery store; but the climax is reached when we discover a large shop doing a rushing business in bed quilts, mattresses and canary birds!
Although the shopping district is interesting there are far more important and attractive spots to visit and as one soon becomes exhausted by walking and as the trolley cars are close and rather slow the visitor will do, well to hire a coche, one of the quaint Victoria-like public carriages, and drive to the various points of interest, Of all things in Cuba the coches are the cheapest and most in evidence; they stand at every corner and on every street and for the modest sum of twenty cents one or two people may Tide anywhere in Havana from one point to another while a third passenger costs but five cents additional. If longer drives are desired the coche
36 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
may be hired for $1.00 to $1.25 per hour and in a few hours every point of interest in Havana may be visited.
Just what should be seen first or just what route should be followed is a matter that each visitor must settle for himself, but no mistake will be made if the first drive includes the Prado, the Malecon and the Vedado.
The Prado is a magnificent asphalted boulevard stretching from Colon Park to the Malecon, a distance of nearly two miles, and with a beautiful park through its centre. In reality the Prado may be said to be a series of small parks with a boulevard on either hand and shaded by deep green laurel trees, flaming poincianas and graceful palms. Opposite the entrance to Colon Park stands a magnificent statue of an Indian goddess known as La Habana or La India and from this spot the visitor shoul&drive slowly down the Prado to the sea-wall and the Malecon at the farther end. From La India to the sea the Prado is all beautiful and one cannot blame the Cubans for being enormously proud of it. On either hand the boulevard is bordered by splendid mansions, beau-
tA HABANA 8I
tiful residences, handsome hotels and enormous club houses, while the cool green parklets in the centre combine to form a wonderful, shaded, airy promenade for pedestrians. During the day the Prado is always well filled with carriages, automobiles and people afoot, but after sundown it fairly teems with life and it is doubtful if there is a noisier or more animated place in the world than the lower section of the Prado from early evening until long past midnight.
Although the original Prado was designed and built by the Spaniards when General Tacon was in power, yet it was not really completed and brought to its present perfection until the American intervention. At this time the Malecon was created, thus putting the finishing touch to the great parkway while the Prado itself was improved, remodelled and formed into one of the most attractive driveways in the world.
At the Malecon the Prado ends in a broad, circular, open space, in the centre of which stands a circular pavilion or band-stand, its roof supported by twenty Ionic columns and with tablets inscribed with the names of famous composers. In
38 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
front of this little temple to music the sea-wall sweeps in a semicircle from the ancient Punta fortress on the right to the Malecon drive on the left, while across the narrow harbour mouth the Morro towers above the sea with the lone-starred flag of Cuba fluttering above its ramparts.
The old Punta fort is one of the original fortifications of Havana, but to-day it is kept more as a curiosity than anything else, and its odd sentry boxes, ancient guns and deep moat are very interesting.
To the right of the Punta is a large savanna or open space covered with smooth green lawns, welltrimmed trees and beds of tropical verdure through which sweep broad asphalt drives. On the further side is the old Carcel or jail, a great, rambling, yellow building 300 feet in length, 250 feet in width and designed to house 5,000 prisoners. Herein was the dreadful garrote by which the Spaniards executed the condemned, and here, in Spanish days, prisoners were confined amid unspeakable conditions of filth and neglect. To-day it is clean, sanitary and neat and is occupied by the Board of Eduoetion and may be visited by ob-
IN COLON PARK, HAVANA,
LA HABANA 89
taking a permit from the municipal authorities.
Midway between the Carcel and the Punta may be seen the remains of a demolished building bearing an inscribed tablet which commemorates the massacre of eight Cuban students which took place near the spot in 1871. They were accused of insulting the memory of a Spaniard and although acquitted by trial they were afterwards shot to appease the clamor of Spanish rabble for their death. To the left of La Punta a broad driveway extends for several miles along the sea-wall. This is the Malecon proper and forms one of the pleasantest driveways imaginable, with rows of residences on one hand, on the other the deep blue sea from which a refreshing breeze blows almost ceaselessly. Continuing along the Malecon the visitor may reach the Vedado, passing on the way the leper hospital of San Lazaro and the odd, round watch-tower on the seaward side. The road here becomes poor, for the Malecon as planned has never been completed, but the native cocheros are equal to any occasion and will drive safely over gullies, rocks and trails that seem passable only for a goat.
40 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
The Vedado is the residence district and contains many fine houses, but they are monotonous in the sameness of their sombre Spanish architecture and are usually half-hidden in a tangle of shrubs, palms and flowers which grow in riotous confusion with little attempt at orderly or attractive arrangement or proper care.
It is a pity that a district so well situated and with so many fine homes should have such poor streets, for the Vedadoy thoroughfares are poor beyond description. In many places they are mere gulleys filled with boulders, deep ruts and stones and in rainy weather are ankle deep with mud. The streets are usually bordered with close-set laurels and other trees which cast a grateful shade, but in the midst of the section are many rubbishstrewn vacant lots with tumble-dlown sheds and outhouses standing close to magnificent homes and ruining the effect of the whole.
From the Vedado one may return to the Central Park by any one of several routes, but the most attractive is probably by the way of Colon Cemetery, El Principe Fort, El Cerro and the Botanical Gardens.
LA HABANA 41
Colon Cemetery is very extensive, is filled with shrubs and trees and contains a great many magnificent monuments, notable among which are the shafts erected in memory of the massacred students already referred to and to thevictims of the destruction of the Maine.
The entrance to the cemetery is surmounted by a sculptured arch bearing allegorical figures and a bas-relief of the crucifixion, the whole forming a most artistic and imposing gateway. Should a funeral be taking place the visitor will be fortunate, for the Cuban hearses are wonderful affairs and well worth seeing. Decorated with scarlet and gold they are drawn by six or more gaily caparisoned horses which are driven by liveried outriders while on the box perch footmen in the gorgeous gold and crimson costumes, cocked hats and, gold lace of the sixteenth century.
To a Northerner they appear far more like circus wagons than hearses, but they satisfy the Cubans and a deceased man's standing and wealth can be determined by the number of horses and gorgeousness of his funeral carriage.
Fort Principe is a quaint, old-time fortress
42 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
crowning a hilltop from which a magnificent view of the city may be obtained, and although at present/used as a jail the projecting sentry boxes, the moat and drawbridge and the arms of Castile and Leon above the gateway are all interesting.
Nearer the city is the Botanical Garden, a beautiful spot filled with a vast assortment of palms, ferns, orchids, shrubs, vines and flowers, artificial grottoes, cascades and pools and with wonderful, palm-bordered walks. It is not as well kept or as much frequented as it deserves and is capable of being transformed into a perfect paradise of tropical verdure with a little trouble and expense and with competent men in charge.
From the Botanical Gardens one may return to Central Park through any one of numerous streets, among which are the beautiful avenues of Paseo Carlos III or Paseo Tacon, streets well macadamised and shaded by double rows of trees and bordered by numerous fine residences.
Such a drive as outlined will cover a large part of the most interesting and attractive portions of the city, but there are many sights to be seen and
LA HABANA 43
many points of interest to be visited within easy walking distance of the hotels.
One of the first places which visitors to a strange country wish to see is the market. Havana has several markets, the largest being the Tacon, a block from the Colon Park and but a few blocks from the Parque Central.
Another large market is the Colon, situated between Zuleta and Montserrate Streets but one block from the Hotel Plaza. Either of these markets affords a most interesting sight to visitors and by strolling through them the stranger may obtain a very good idea of the numerous natural products of the Island. The closely packed stalls are mainly filled with fruits and vegetables, both tropical and temperate. Bananas of every size, colour and variety are everywhere and to the person familiar only with the common red and yellow varieties the multitudinous array of these popular fruits is simply marvellous. There are tiny, thinskinned, sugar-sweet bananas; slender, green and red-spotted bananas, that look like some lizard or snake in colour; stout, stubby, orange and red
44 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
bananas; bananas that are green when ripe; bananas that are covered with black blotches and appear half decayed but in reality are delicious; and each and every variety with some particular points of superiority and each with a local Cuban name. Side by side with the bananas are their near relatives the plantains; huge, green or yellow fruits that are delicious when boiled, roasted or fried and which form a staple article of diet in all tropical lands. Pineapples are legion and of many kinds; oranges, limes and grape fruits are on every side; while innumerable odd-shaped, strangely-coloured fruits invite the visitor to taste and sample these unusual products of the Tropics. Anonas, or custard apples, with their rough green and brown skins, containing a cool creamy pulp that savours of vanilla ice cream; zapotes with their leathery rind and orange, spicy meat; nisperos or sapodillas with their brownish sugary pulp; rose apples; pawpaws, sour sops, guavas, yackees, prickly ears, melons and last, but more numerous than all, mangoes of a hundred shapes and varieties and varying in flavour from a kerosene-soaked sponge to a combination of straw-
LA HABANA 45
berries and pears. ,Even more numerous in forms and varieties are the vegetables. Carrots, cabbages, potatoes, lettuce, Lima and string beans, peas, corn, beets, radishes, cauliflowers, asparagus, and egg plants are piled high beside yams, sweet potatoes, yucca, taro, palm-cabbage, choyotes, and other native Cuban vegetables, for to these markets come the farmers from far and near and in Cuba's rich soil and various climates almost every known vegetable and fruit may be grown to perfection.
The fruit and vegetable stalls are but a small portion of the market and the fish and poultry sections are fully as interesting if one can stand the odour. Early in the morning is the best time to visit the markets and at this time the fish stalls will be found filled with denizens of the sea that will seem wonderful indeed to the Northern visitor. Land crabs tied in bunches, great saltwater crabs with scarlet shells, huge clawless lobsters with their peacock tints, crawfish from the rivers, shrimp from the bays, eels, oysters, claim and snails are all in evidence, with here and there a slimy repulsive cuttlefish or octopus a sea deni-
46 CUBA, FAST AND PRESENT
zen that is excellent eating despite his appearance and which is greatly relished by the Cubans and Spaniards. But more noticeable than all else are the wonderfully coloured fish; brilliant, scarlet snappers; crimson squirrel fish; blue, green, golden and orange parrot fish; silver and turquoise angel fish; rainbow flounders; great snake-like morays; iridescent pompanos and bonitos; scintillating, metallic-scale dolphins; silvery tarpon; clean-cut, savage-looking swordfish and a thousand and one varieties of lesser fishes may be seen, for the Cuban waters swarm with marine life and no one knows better than the Cubans how to cook fish to perfection.
Fully as interesting is the poultry section of the market, for the Cuban has ways of his own in selling poultry and his ways are odd indeed from our point of view. Here in the poultry stalls one may buy eggs, pigeons, turkeys, quail, plover, squabs, guinea fowl, ducks and geese. If you wish a whole fowl you may purchase it alive or dead, plucked or unplucked, and if your family is small or only a small quantity of fowl is desired you are not compelled to purchase more than you
LA HABANA 4/7
need or to go without. The Cuban poultryman sells fowl in sections as readily as whole and in the markets one may buy a neck, a breast, a wing, a pair of legs, a head or even the giblets separately. It is a strange sight to see a stall with every conceivable portion of a fowl's anatomy displayed separately and one is filed with admiration at the skill displayed by the marketmen in dissecting and dismembering the birds in such a manner as to obtain such a multitude of cuts, steaks and joints from a single carcass.
It is but a few steps from the Colon market to the beautiful Los Angeles church with its roof prickly with miniature steeples and towers and its yellow painted walls. The church itself is of little interest for it is not very ancient and has been remodelled and rebuilt; but the streets in its vicinity are well worth visiting. These are among the oldest and quaintest streets of the city and one the Loma del Angel
- is the narrowest thoroughfare in Havana, being scarce ten feet in width.
A short distance from this church and towards the Malecon is the immense cigar factory of
48 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
Henry Clay and Bock and Company and as visitors are welcome, a tour through this up-to-date cigar factory should not be omitted. In passing from the church to the factory one's attention will be drawn to a fragment of ancient stone work bearing a strange lantern-like sentry box. This is all that remains of the old Spanish wall which originally completely surrounded the town, for Havana was once a walled city, but its growth was so rapid that it soon spread beyond the walls and for many years they have been demolished and destroyed save here and there where some fragment was utilised to form the wall of a house or building or was spared as a monument for its historical interest.
From this spot it is but a short stroll back to the hotels and Central Park or to the cool seaside benches and restaurants of the Malecon.
Another pleasant walk which will prove full of interest is down O'Reilly or Obispo Streets to the Plaza de Armas and the palace. Obispo Street is always interesting and with its grateful shade, cast by the canvas canopies, is cooler and pleasanter than most of Havana's streets. Turning
LA HABANA 49
down the broad avenue between the Bazaar de Paris, or Gomez Block, and Albisu theatre, one comes to a little square or plaza containing a marble statue of Albear, the engineer who built the reservoir and constructed the pipe line through which Havana's water supply is led from distant Vento Springs. This is known as Albear Square and at the left is Calle O'Reilly and at the right Calle Obispo. Proceeding down Obispo Street beneath the awnings we pass the Cuba Trust Company's white marble building and a block or two farther on reach the Banco Nacional de Cuba, a magnificent six-story white marble building. The bank proper occupies the first floor, which is in reality a miniature park or plaza with an open central patio. Elevators carry the visitor to the upper floors, the fifth of which contains the offices of the United States Consul General, while from the roof one may obtain a splendid panoramic view of the city.
A short distance beyond the bank one comes upon the Plaza de Armas,- a large open square filled with palms and shrubs and in the centre of which is a handsome statue of Ferdinand VII of
50 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
Spain. This plaza was really the nucleus of Havana and dates from 1519. It is close to the original landing place of the founders of the city, a spot marked by the little "Templete on the barbour side of the square and beside which stands a silk cotton tree, a sprout from the original ceiba beneath which mass was said on landing. Grouped around the Plaza de Armas are the various administrative buildings, such as the President's Palace at the west, the Senate Building to the north, the Hall of Representatives at the south and the Post Office at the northeast. All of these buildings are of interest and are open to visitors, the President's Palace being particularly well worth seeing as it contains a beautiful patio filled with flowers and palms, a splendid statue of Columbus, broad marble stairways and the old Spanish Throne Room. On the northern side of the square stands the ancient fort or La Fuerza, the oldest structure in Havana and of great historical interest. La Fuerza was built in 1588 under the personal direction of Ferdinand de Soto who sailed for Florida the following year. Here in the fort he installed his wife, the Dofia Isabel, as
LA HABANA 51
"adelantado and here she waited patiently for his return until after four long years of vigil she realised that hope was useless and died of grief and a broken heart. The grim old fort has seen many a hard fought battle and has bravely withstood assaults of pirates, buccaneers and foreign invaders only falling to the guns of Morro trained upon it by the British forces. Within its grey walls have reposed countless millions of gold and jewels, for it was the great treasure 'vault of the Indies and galleons and plate ships, homeward bound from Peru and Mexico stored here their treasure that it might he safe from sea-rovers and marauders. For many years the quaint old fort fell'-into a state of decay and neglect, but at the American invasion it was rescued from its ignominious surroundings, cleared of filth and rubbish, partially restored and now stands forth with bridge and moat, high walls and ancient sentry boxes, a splendid and enduring monument of Cuba's most interesting past.
From the Plaza de Armas one may turn to the left and pass up O'Reilly Street; but it is better to pass behind the rear of the Palace, see the pie-
52 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
turesque vista of O'Reilly with the age-grey belfry of San Domingo church towering above the housetops and continue to Emperado Street and past the Cathedral.
This ancient church was commenced in 1656, but was not completed until 1724. It is Latin-Gothic in architecture, built of native limestone and has assumed a dull, hoary-grey tint which makes it appear very ancient. The exterior of the Cathedral is quite imposing and within there are several fine paintings, among them a supposed Murillo, depicting the Pope and his Cardinals celebrating mass on the eve of the departure of Columbus. The altar is very beautiful and built of Italian marble and surrounded by marble mosaic floors while the embroidered and jewelled vestments are marvellous and may be seen by application to the Sacristano. The Cathedral is, however, most widely celebrated as having been at one time the resting-place of the bones of Columbus which it never contained, if researches and historical facts may be believed. Columbus was buried in Valladolid, Spain, in 1508, and the body was later transferred to Seville and thence to San Domingo
LA HABANA 53
where it was deposited in the great cathedral in San Domingo City. When the French, in 1795, took possession of San Domingo the retiring Spaniards removed certain bones believed to be those of the discoverer and carried them to Havana. Here they were received with great pomp and ceremony and were reinterred in a niche in the Cathedral in the wall of the chancel. Later they were removed to a magnificent tomb beneath the dome and here the bones remained until the evacuation of Cuba by the Spaniards when the remains were once more transferred to the Cathedral of Seville, Spain. All this is a matter of undisputed history but when a second casket of bones, bearing inscriptions proving it to be the coffin of Columbus, was discovered in the San Domingo Cathedral, doubt arose as to the identity of the Havana bones. The Havanese and the Spaniards used every argument to prove their relics the genuine ones, but the preponderance of evidence appears to be in favour of the bones still in Santo Domiingo; the remains transferred to Cuba and later to Seville being probably those of Diego Columbus, the son of the great admiral.
514 CUBA, FAST AND PRESENT
However this may be, the Havana Cathedral is well worth visiting and in the wall may still be seen the niche wherein the alleged body of Columbus rested for many years and where formerly was a tablet inscribed with the following lines:
"0 Grand Columbus, In this urn enshrined
A thousand centuries thy bones shall guard;
A thousand ages keep thine image fresh,
In token of a nation's gratitude."
HAVANA LIFE AND CUSTOMS
THE visitor in a tropical country should never expect to accomplish as much as in the North. Although the temperature may not be as high as in New York, and there is little humidity, yet the climate is invariably enervating--at least in the coast towns,-and one becomes tired and exhausted much sooner than in temperate climates. Many tourists try to live in the Tropics exactly as they do in the North. They eat the same kind of food, imbibe the same drinks, keep the same hours of eating, sleeping and walking, and scoff at the native ways of life. This is a great mistake; the people of the Tropics know far better than North-. erners what to do and what not to do, what to eat and drink and what to avoid, and how best to divide the twenty-four hours between sleeping and waking. When in Rome do as the Romans do is thoroughly applicable to the Tropics, and if one desires to be healthy and to accomplish any-
56 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
thing in tropical lands he must follow the example of the natives as to his manner of living. It is not necessary to eat all kinds of native food or to live in native discomfort to do this; there are plenty of wholesome, appetising, native dishes and many Northern viands are perfectly suitable for the Tropics; but it is a wise plan to follow the best class of natives in selecting food, drinks and refreshments.
An abundance of sleep is most essential in tropical lands and nearly all tropical people take a long siesta or nap in the middle of the day. This enables them to keep late hours at night and to be ip betimes in the morning,- the pleasantest portions of the whole twenty-four hours,-- and in this universal custom lies the secret of the SpanishAmerican's fondness for night life. In Havana, life and gaiety is at its height from nine in the evening until three in the morning and to the casual observer the Havanese never seem to sleep and the streets about the plaza and Prado are as noisy and bright with life at two A.m. as at eight P.m.
Of course the average tourist is limited for time in most cases and there is a great temptation to
HAVANA LIFE AND CUSTOMS 57
rush and "do the town" in a few days or hours. It is far better to take things easy and see less with greater comfort. We laugh at the tendency of the Spanish-American to put everything off until marianaa," but in this habit lies his safeguard of health and after a few years in the Tropics the American is prone to postpone a large part of his business until to-morrow and becomes a thorough convert to the mafiana habit himself, or else exhausts his vitality and falls an easy prey to disease and drink.
In Havana, the custom is to rise early, take a meagre breakfast or desayuno of coffee, bread and fruit with perhaps a couple of boiled eggs or other light food. After this repast one may stroll about the town or drive hither and thither until about eleven o'clock when almuerza or luncheon is served. After luncheon a siesta is taken or one loafs about the house or hotel until two or three o'clock when once more a car ride, walk or shopping tour may be taken. From five P.m. until nightfall is the busiest hour for business and shopping and for walks and drives along the water front or in the suburbs. About seven comida or
58 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
dinner is taken and the rest of the evening and most of the night is spent in the parks, in the theatres or on the Pr'ado with frequent visits to the innumerable caf6s and restaurants where iced soft drinks, ice cream, coffee or other refreshments are indulged in freely.
It is not necessary to exhaust oneself by walking in Havana, for the trolley cars, auto-busses, and coche's are cheap and carry the visitor to nearly every point of interest; or carriages or automobiles may be hired by the hour or trip at reasonable rates. A large proportion of the Havanese speak English, and every hotel, restaurant and store has at least one English-speaking employ6. Many of the cocheros do not speak English, but by merely mentioning the name of one's destination the coach driver will understand where his passenger wishes to go. It is an easy matter to lose oneself in Havana and in order to avoid any possibility of going astray the visitor should always carry the address of his hotel or boarding house on a card which may be shown to a coach driver or policeman in case of necessity.
There is no possibility of the carriage drivers
CENTRAL PARK AND GALLEGOS CLUB, HAVANA
HAVANA LIFE AND CUSTOMS 59
overcharging, for the rates are regulated by law and every driver carries a copy of the tariff law. In the case of long drives, or when the coach is hired by the hour, definite arrangements as to charges should be made in advance for the cocheros always hope to receive a little more than the law allows and on the other hand are frequently willing to reduce the legal rate considerably in order to obtain a fare.
The visitor who speaks Spanish has a decided advantage and even -a slight knowledge of the language is very useful. Havana lives for a good portion of the time on the tourists and Havana merchants, guides, hotel keepers, cocheros and even the street vendors consider American tourists fair prey and charge double or treble the prices they would dare charge Cubans.
If one does not speak Spanish and is unfamiliar with the customs of the country it is a wise plan to have some Cuban friend, or a hotel interpreter, do the purchasing and hiring and a few dollars expended in tips to a competent interpreter will usually save many dollars in over-charges. Havana is literally alive with guides and local tour-
60 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
bureau solicitors and the latter are often exceedingly annoying and even insulting when their services are declined. At times these runners try to make the stranger believe that it is impossible to obtain entrance to the various public buildings and ruins without their assistance, but this is false, for every building or place of interest that can be seen in company with a tour-bureau agent may be seen just as readily by any stranger alone.
Before the Great War Cuba possessed what might be called a "mongrel" system of coinage. Spanish, French and American currency formed the medium of exchange. This was costly and inadequate, and in the fall of 1914, when an unprecedented rise in the price of Spanish -and French coins occurred, the Cuban Legislature found it necessary to authorize a national currency which would emancipate the country from a European system and enable the Republic to buy gold and silver in the open market and coin these metals in the mints of the United States. The new monetary law was approved by President Menocal on October 21, 1914. It demonetised the Spanish gold dollar, a Spanish or French coin of 21.13 grams
HAVANA LIFE AND CUSTOMS 61 of pure gold, used solely in Cuba as a legal standard of computation for a century past, and in the course of two years these coins were repatriated by the Government without affecting the exchanges.
The law created a national gold standard, at a mint parity with the American dollar, which was also made a legal tender. Hence American paper and metallic money now circulates to the exclusion of other foreign moneys, simplifying exchange operations and adding another bond to the close commercial and social relations existing between the United States and Cuba. Cuban gold, silver and nickel pieces are coined, of specified denominations. Silver coins are absolute tender for obligations not in excess of ten dollars, and to, the extent of eight per cent of payments over that amount.
In former years the Cubans invariably quoted prices far in advance of what they actually expected to receive and an article priced at $1.00 could usually.be purchased for fifty cents or less. Since the Americanisation of Cuba and the influx of tourists the prices quoted are now usually adhered to and save in the markets, small shops and
62 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
outlying towns it is a waste of time to try and beat down the prices asked. In Havana the custom of tipping 11 is as prevalent as in New York or elsewhere and tips are usually calculated at a basis of ten per cent. of the bill in restaurants, hotels, etc.; but more than a peseta should never be given, the ordinary tip being a real or Spanish dime. Beggars are seldom seen and should not be encouraged, for only professional beggars are at large, the deserving poor being amply provided for and well taken care of in all the large Cuban towns.
In attending theatres one may purchase tickets for one or more acts or for the entire performance but the moving pictures have now largely superseded the legitimate theatre in Havana as popular places of amusement while the Basque game of pelota or Jai Alai, cockfights, baseball, golf, boating and autoing are very popular.
The Havana lottery is a most important institution and one sees the tickets on sale in every shop and store and by every street vendor. This lottery is perfectly fair and square and as the tickets cost but twenty-five cents each and the
HAVANA LIFE AND CUSTOMS 65 drawings are frequent it is doubtful if they are really any serious drain on the people's money. Oddly enough, visiting Americans are among the largest and most frequent purchasers of the lottery tickets, although they hold up their hands in horror at such open "gambling" and pretend to disapprove most seriously of anything pertaining to lotteries or games of chance. Americans not infrequently win large sums at the lottery and it is doubtful if they ever consider their winnings as "tainted money" or refuse to accept it.
As to the advisability of a state lottery each must form his or her own opinion, but oddly enough where the lottery is an open public institution drunkenness and crimes arising from intoxication are rare. This may not have any direct connection with the lottery, for the Spanish-American considers it a degradation to be seen under the influence of liquor in public, but in the opinion of the writer it is far better for the people to spend money on lottery tickets than on drink, card games, dice or other forms of dissipation and gambling. Where the lottery holds
* 64~ CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
sway there is little money left for dissipation after the lottery tickets are bought. Every country has its weaknesses and if the Cubans prefer lotteries to other games of chance there is no reason why we should criticise or object. It may consume a good portion of the workingman's savings, but it certainly does not induce rowdyism, vice
If the visitor is fond of bathing he may enjoy a
splendid swim by travelling to Marianao beach, a distance of some ten miles from Havana and reached either by trolley or electric trains which leave the Concha Station hourly. The trip costs but ten cents and the country traversed is quite interesting and typical of rural Cuba, with broad level pastures, pineapple fields and great numbers of magnificent royal palms. Marianao beach is some distance from Marianao itself but the town is worth visiting as it is old fashioned, picturesque and has the reputation of being the cleanest town
on the Island.
Between the beach and_ the town is the Country
Club, a beautiful property with a magnificent golf course, tennis courts, croquet lawns and handsome~
HAVANA LIFE AND CUSTOMS 65
shrubbery, trees and flower gardens. The club house is of the old mission type of architecture and is a most attractive and pleasant place to visit if one is fortunate enough to secure an introduction through friends who are members.
In Havana itself a good insight into Cuban customs and life may be gained by strolling through the various, much-frequented thoroughfares or the numerous caf6s or restaurants which are on nearly every corner and are wide open to the street. The Cubans are great patronizers of cafes and at the small marble-topped tables they congregate in groups; sip native drinks or beer, smoke cigars and cigarettes and chat and gossip by the hour. All of these open caf6s or restaurants are perfectly safe and respectable and ladies visit them as freely as men. Cubans as a race are very quiet, orderly and well behaved and treat women with respect and never stare rudely at a stranger or make remarks. Although any sort of beverage, either alcoholic or not, may be purchased in the caf6s, yet the favourite drinks are the delicious native ref rescos. These are merely, iced fruit syrups made from fresh native fruits,
66 CUBA, PAST AND PRESENT
but they are cooling, pleasant and perfectly safe and healthy. In variety they are almost endless, for any and every fruit of the Island, as well as many of our Northern fruits, are used for making refrescos, but among them all the favourites are naranjada or orangeade; limonada or limeade; pifia colado or strained pineapple; picia sin colar, or unstrained pineapple; anona, or custard apple; grendda, or pomegranate; and ensalada, which is a combination of various fruits. Coffee and chocolate are also served in these cafes, the former being poured hot from a pot carried by the waiter with salted boiled milk added from a second pot. The chocolate is delicious but is very thick and rich and is seldom relished by Northerners at first. Ice cream or mantecado is also served as well as helados or water-ices, and many of these are as rich, pleasant and well made as our Northern products.
These little cafes have wonderful resources and one may order anything from a refresco to a course dinner and have it served promptly and well; -in fact the very best way to live in Havana is to room at some good hotel, and take one's
HAVANA LIFE AND CUSTOMS 67 meals at any restaurant or caf6 that may be convenient. Fortunately there is no danger in drinking water freely in Havana, for the water supply is obtained from Vento Springs nearly ten miles away, through a covered aqueduct, and is among the purest of waters known. In former times the Havana water was almost undrinkable as it was led to the city through an open ditch and reeked with filth and decomposing vegetation.
In nearly every Spanish-American country there are many interesting native customs, habits and costumes, but in Havana the majority of typical native ways have been lost or given up since the Spanish evacuation. The graceful mantillas fornierly worn by all classes of women are now but seldom seen save on the heads or shoulders of the old ladies or the poorer classes and the latest Parisian fashions and fabrics are much in evidence,-- in fact, the Cuban women dress far better and in later fashions than their New York sisters, while the men wear light flannels, linens, alpacas and silks which are most appropriate for the climate. In home life the Cubans are rather retiring and one seldom sees Cuban ladies on the
68 CUBA, PAST AND PRIBSENT
street, save in the late afternoon or evening or in automobiles. The custom of men embracing, patting one another on the back and kissing the cheek when meeting or parting is still in vogue and seems very funny to the less demonstrative Northerner, but the Cubans take it very seriously and no doubt think it is just as odd for us to merely grasp hands and mutter a few commonplace words when parting from or meeting old friends or relatives.
There are, however, many minor local customs which one will constantly see, such as the milk vendor riding on horseback with his cans slung on either side of the saddle; the odd house-shaped stores on wheels from which bread, cakes, drinks and sweetmeats are sold; the fruit pedlars with their wagons embowered in palm leaves; the fowlsellers with their carts piled high with coops of live chickens; the queer, diminutive watering carts with a single barrel on wheels drawn by a sleepy donkey, and the loads of Guinea-grass travelling along the streets without apparent reason but which in reality hide the tiny burro upon which the bundles of grass are piled high.
HAVANA LIFE AND CUSTOMS 69
All of these things may, however, be far oftener seen in the country and smaller towns than in Havana, for the capital is very modern and is yearly becoming more thoroughly up to date and pushing the old and obsolete to one side.
The crude barrel watering-cart is being supplanted by huge two horse sprinklers, the dray and donkey is giving place to Milburn wagons and auto-trucks, and the ancient hand fire-engines have been abandoned in favour of the latest steam and chemical machines, auto fire-patrols, aerial trucks, trained horses and up-to-the-minute electrical equipment.
In every phase of life and business it is the same; Havana is no longer an old-fashioned, conservative town held down by Spanish oppression and misrule, but a pushing progressive city kept abreast of the times and forging rapidly to the front through the energy and ability of the Cubans under the rule of their own countrymen.
Nowhere in Havana can a better idea of progress and improvement be seen than in the great Central Station,- the terminus of the United
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Railways of Havana, the Cuba Central Railway. and the Havana Central Railway. This enormous building, with its broad concrete approach, twin towers, attractive architecture and splendidly equipped interior, would be a credit to any city in the world. Within are large, beautifully finished waiting-rooms, cafrs, restaurants, barber shops, boot-blacking stands, news stands and every modern convenience, with the dozen or more terminal tracks completely covered by iron and glass roofs. On the tracks stand the waiting trains,- standard gauge, luxurious coaches, Pullmans, sleepers, buffet cars and great, snorting, powerful Mogul locomotives, ready to whirl the waiting, pushing throngs to distant Santiago or other inland towns over a roadbed that is a marvel of engineering and through hundreds of miles of enchanting scenery.
From this scene of busy, hurrying activity one turns to a striking contrast near at hand. At one end of the platform, within a polished brass railing, stands a relic of Havana's railways of the past. An old-fashioned, diminutive locomotiverthe first to operate on Cuban railways and one