• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Half Title
 Frontispiece
 Title Page
 Introduction
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 Then and now
 So this is Cuba
 Round Havana
 The playground
 Take your car to Cuba
 Ports and cities
 Ancient Santiago
 Treasure Island
 Provinces of Cuba
 Fauna and flora
 A bit of history
 Life in Havana
 Places about Havana
 Recreations
 Items of interest














Title: Cuba of today
CITATION PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00074071/00001
 Material Information
Title: Cuba of today
Physical Description: xx, 249 p. : front., plates, maps. ; 20 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Verrill, A. Hyatt ( Alpheus Hyatt ), 1871-1954
Publisher: Dodd, Mead and Company
Place of Publication: New York
Publication Date: 1937
 Subjects
Subject: Description and travel -- Cuba   ( lcsh )
Description and travel -- Havana (Cuba)   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by A. Hyatt Verrill ...
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00074071
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000112261
oclc - 23588673
notis - AAM7951

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
        Front Cover 3
    Half Title
        Page i
    Frontispiece
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Introduction
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
    Table of Contents
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
        Page xv
        Page xvi
        Page xvii
        Page xviii
    List of Illustrations
        Page xix
        Page xx
        Page xxi
        Page xxii
    Then and now
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
    So this is Cuba
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
    Round Havana
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 26a
        Page 26b
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 42a
        Page 42b
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
    The playground
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 58a
        Page 58b
        Page 59
    Take your car to Cuba
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 74a
        Page 74b
        Page 74c
        Page 74d
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
    Ports and cities
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 90a
        Page 90b
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
    Ancient Santiago
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
    Treasure Island
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 122a
        Page 122b
        Page 122c
        Page 122d
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
    Provinces of Cuba
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
    Fauna and flora
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 138a
        Page 138b
    A bit of history
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 154a
        Page 154b
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
    Life in Havana
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 170a
        Page 170b
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 186a
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
    Places about Havana
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
    Recreations
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
    Items of interest
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
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UNIVERSITY
OF FLORIDA
LIBRARIES


IMIS 'WULN

BY THE UtIVERSflty Of
FVLORIM LIBORIES-


















CUBA OF TODAY




































Courtesy, "Havana Post'


View of Havana from Cabafia fortress.







CUBA OF TODAY


BY
A. HYATT YERRILL
AUTHOR OF "POBTO BICO, AT PEENT,
PANAMAA OF TODAY," EC.


With Illustrations


DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY


NEW YORK


1931




















LATIM
A5EIROU


COPTBYlGH, 1931,
BT DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY, INc.


All rights reserved-no part of this book may be
reproduced in any form without permission in
writing from the publisher.


PRINTED IN THE U. S. A. BY
usm & Lblem CAlmpu, 38.
BOOK MANUFACTURERS
RAHWAY. NEW JERSEY


li~ia











INTRODUCTION


I DOUBT if any country-not even excepting Cali-
fornia-has been more widely advertised than
Cuba. And, unfortunately, in their overwhelm-
ing desire to "sell" Cuba and to lure more and
more visitors to the island's shores, the Cubans,
and the Americans interested in Cuba, have
grossly exaggerated many of their statements.
Not that Cuba is not admirable in many respects.
One might confine oneself to the most conservative
statements and yet paint a glowing word picture
of the island and its manifold attractions. There
is no necessity and no excuse for overrating the
island's charms and advantages. But those who
have a personal or public interest in the island
have been carried away by their own enthusiasm
and have-either unwittingly or for business rea-
sons-ignored everything that might in any way
be considered adverse to the island or might by
any possibility prevent visitors from going there.
If we believe the tour companies, the steamship
folders and the hotel advertisements, the island is
a veritable Eden with never a serpent to mar its
paradisical perfection. In fact Cuba's praises
have been sung so loudly and so insistently that






INTRODUCTION


one becomes a bit suspicious of flies in the oint-
ment, so to speak.
Anyone who has traveled about to any great
extent is quite aware that no spot on this earth is
absolutely perfect. And anyone at all familiar
with the tropics and semi-tropics, and with Latin
America, has learned by observation and experi-
ence that there invariably are drawbacks-objec-
tionable features and faults that must exist.
We are told that Cuba is the "most beautiful
country in the world"; that its climate is the
"most perfect on earth"; that Havana is the
"Paris of America," etc. Such statements ac-
tually do more harm than good. It would be far
better for a visitor to Cuba to find it better than
expected and so be agreeably surprised rather
than to find it far below what he had expected,
and so be disagreeably disappointed. The truth
of the matter is that Cuba is no better and no
worse than any other semi-tropical land, in as far
as climate, insect pests, natural conditions and
surroundings are concerned. Its climate is no
more perfect than that of any other West Indian
island-and not so good as the climate of many.
Scenically it cannot compare with the Lesser An-
tilles, with Porto Rico, Santo Domingo or Jamaica.
And Havana is by no means so beautiful, so exotic,
so attractive, so colorful or so replete with historic
interests as many other Latin-American cities.
Practically every Spanish-American capital lays






INTRODUCTION


claim to being the Paris of America, though why
any of them should desire to compare their attrac-
tions with those of Paris is incomprehensible to
me.
On the other hand Cuba does possess many
attractions and many qualities not found else-
where in the American tropics or semi-tropics.
No other Latin-American city possesses more
imodernities, more comforts, luxuries and attrac-
tive shops; more imposing buildings, more beauti-
ful avenues and parks or more up-to-date hotels
than those of Havana. And in point of health and
cleanliness it leads the world. Neither can anyone
deny that there is no other city where there are
more ways and means of enticing the money from
visitors' pockets, or that the Cubans are the
world's past masters of the fine art of inducing
their visitors to part with their funds.
Moreover, Cuba's proximity to the United
States, the rapid and adequate steamship and air-
plane services between the two countries, the fact
that no bothersome passports or other red tape
are required to enter or leave Cuba, are all mat-
ters in which Cuba stands alone.
In short, taken by and large, from the point of
view of the transient, the tourist or the winter
visitor, Cuba's admirable features far outweigh
those less desirable.
But don't be carried away with the idea that
Cuba is a Paradise on earth. Don't expect to find






INTRODUCTION


the island a place of scenic wonders and tran-
scendent beauty, for if you do you will be horribly
disappointed when you see Cuba.
And don't think that the Cubans love us Ameri-
cans. I have lived in Latin America for more
years than I like to recall, and I have yet to find
the Latin-American country whose people have
any real love-I might even say friendship-for
the Gringoes. They may be outwardly courteous,
urbane, even hospitable, but in their hearts they
hate and detest us as a race, though they may like
us individually. But the Latin Americans are, by
nature and by custom, polite and past masters at
dissembling, and they know on which side their
bread is buttered, as the saying goes. As long as
the North Americans have money to spend (and
in the eyes of Latin Americans all of our country-
men are millionaires) our neighbors to the south
are willing to tolerate us for the sake of our
pocketbooks. Not that I blame them. We-or
our government-have given them cause enough to
detest and mistrust us. We are doing rather bet-
ter today than we have done in the past when deal-
ing with our Latin America sister republics; we
are beginning to learn, beginning to realize that
the Latin Americans are not a lot of uncivilized,
crude, semi-barbarous beings on whom we can
foist incompetent consuls and ambassadors from
the backwoods, on whom we can unload inferior
merchandise, and over whose heads we can wave


VUi1






INTRODUCTION


the "big stick" as if they were a crowd of unruly
hoodlums. We may eventually learn to keep our
hands off their private affairs and their politics,
and we may some day learn to treat them like
our equals and cease to regard them with our un-
warranted and irritating air of superiority.
Perhaps when that millennium arrives the Latin
Americans may acquire a genuine friendship for
the Gringoes, but until then they will continue to
regard us as the barbarians, as meddlesome
busybodies whose sole redeeming feature is that
we possess unlimited funds which they can borrow
in time of need and which we are willing to spend
for what they have to sell and for the sake of
visiting their countries.
And as the Cubans depend very largely upon the
tourist trade and upon North American visitors
for their incomes, they are wise enough not to
show or express their true feelings, and thus jeop-
ardize their own interests. Moreover, as the
Cubans, perhaps through contact with ourselves,
have as a whole lost quite a large percentage of
the traditional Spanish politeness and polish, it is
not at all unusual to find Cubans-and more par-
ticularly the petty officials-woefully lacking even
in ordinary courtesy when dealing with North
Americans.
That fact, however, should not deter anyone
from visiting Cuba. When it comes right down
to brass tacks, there are very few countries on this





INTRODUCTION


earth where the people do love Americans. We
seem to possess the unhappy faculty of rubbing
most other races the wrong way; but that does not
prevent us from being the most insistent and in-
satiable globe-trotters in the world. And there
are plenty of Cubans who are delightful, charm-
ing, hospitable and really friendly folk and who
take individuals at their face value instead of
judging all by the few.
Besides, Cuba is Cuba and Havana is Havana
and both are unique. Both possess attractions un-
like those of any other spot, and, as long as there
is no such thing as perfection on this old earth,
Cuba and its really fascinating capital may still
lay claim to being the ideal winter playground for
visitors from the north.
Each year more and more visitors flock to the
island; each year more and more of these visitors
take their automobiles with them to Cuba, and
while vast stores of information-in the form of
leaflets, folders, guides and propaganda-are dis-
tributed, yet a very large portion of those who
visit or intend to visit Cuba, are at a complete
loss when it comes to accurate and unbiased infor-
mation regarding the republic and its capital.
This book is intended to supply this knowledge
and to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing
but the truth about Cuba, Havana and the Cubans.
Sixteen years ago Cuba Past and Present was
written. The book met with a flattering reception






INTRODUCTION


both in the United States and in Cuba, and re-
cently, at a meeting of the Havana Rotary Club,
on the occasion when the new American Minister,
Mr. Guggenheim, was tendered a reception, one
of the leading Cubans present paid me the com-
pliment of declaring publicly that no one had ever
written a book on Cuba that was as good as Cuba
Past and Present.
The present book has been written to supplant
the former work; for Cuba, and more especially
Havana, have altered far too much during sixteen
years to permit of Cuba Past and Present being
revised and brought up to date.
It has been my aim to make Cuba of Today as
informative, as wide in its scope, as replete with
facts and figures as was Cuba Past and Present,
and in addition to make it a far more readable
and interesting volume. I have endeavored to de-
scribe matters as they are and not as we might
wish to have them. If certain illusions are de-
stroyed, if the Cubans do not feel flattered or com-
plimented by certain of my statements, it cannot
be avoided without deliberately misrepresenting
or else ignoring facts. And if here and there I
have criticized certain matters, I have found many
more matters on which to bestow unstinted praise.
Besides, criticism is sometimes of more real value
than praise, at least when it is constructive criti-
cism.














CONTENTS

CHAPTrI PAC
INTRODUCTION .

I THEN AND NOW 1
Havana forty years ago. Under Spanish rule.
Contrasts. Havana today. Fascination of the
old days. Street scenes in Spanish times. What
Havana has lost. What remains.

II So Tns Is CUBA 8
First impressions. A big city. Thoroughly
modern. Landing. Going through the customs.
Cuban customs rules. Cuban customs methods.
A disgraceful occurrence. What American
women may expect. Gullible tourists. Easy
marks. Throwing away money. The "Second
Sugar Crop." The Cubans' point of view. The
"Wise Ones." An expensive place. Havana in
summer. Advantages of speaking Spanish.

III BOUND HAVANA 21
The oldest part of the city. From the old to
the new. Traffic problems. Plazas. Narrow
streets. Ancient buildings. The City Wall.
Modern buildings. The Plaza de Armas. Hub
of Havana. The Templete. La Fuerza and De
Soto. Other buildings. The old palace. The
Cathedral. Columbus' bones. The truth about
Columbus. The Morro and Cabala. The Laurel
Ditch. Old enmities forgotten. Spaniards in
Cuba. The Morro. Modern Havana. The Cen-
tral Plaza and its surroundings. Cuba's eight-
een-million-dollar Capitol. The grand gesture.
Beautifying Havana. A miraculous transforma-
tion. How it was done. The Prado. The "Sea's
Necklace." La Punts. Presidential Palace.
The narrowest street. The Students' Monument.
Altered names of streets. The market. Strange
xiii







xiv CONTENTS
CHAPTER NAGM
fish, fruits and vegetables. Flowers and poul-
try. The free markets. Cuban cleanliness.
The "basura" brigade.

IV THE PLAYGROUND 49
The Vedado and beyond. Temples to "Whoopee."
Residential sections. Bad roads. Vedado's
fearful streets. Almendares bridge. Fifth Ave-
nue. Almendares Yacht Club. The Playa. The
Casino. The Havana Yacht Club. Country Club
Park. Havana's Monte Carlo. Two unique cab-
arets. Other cabarets. The rumba dance. The
real thing, and where to see it. Origin of the
rumba.

V TAKE YOUR CAB TO CUBA 60
Size of Cuba. Some astonishing comparisons.
The island's surface. Highest mountains.
Swamps. Havana not typical of Cuba. Cuba's
new motor highways. How to take your car to
Cuba. Nothing easier. Cost of taking a ear to
Havana. Taking a car from Cuba to Europe.
The useful A. A. A Cuba ideal for touring.
Driving in Havana's traffic. Some difficulties to
be met. Trouble in finding one's way into the
country. Near-by roads and routes. Pinar del
Rio. Cuba's scenery. Where the best tobacco
is grown. Guanajay and Mariel. Baracoa
Beach. Relics of the past. Across the island to
Batabano. Home of sponges and mosquitoes.
Guanabacoa. The main Central Highway to
Matanzas. Something about the new roads.
Towns along the way. Pests of Matanzas. The
Hermitage. The Yumuri Valley. Caves of Bell-
amar. On to Santa Clara and beyond. The
City of a Hundred Fires. Cienfuegos' attrac-
tions. Cardenas. Poverty of the natives.
Farms and fields. Improvident people. The
curse of sugar. The "Dance of the Milions."
The beginning of the end. The crash and how
it happened. Neglected opportunities. General
Machado, the ideal city. Lack of appreciation.

VI PORTS AND CITIES 88
Provinces of Cuba. Fallacy of Judging Cuba by
one section of the island. Cuba's shores. Islets
and cayos. Numerous ports. Chief towns inland.







CONTENTS xv
Piratical raids. The sacking of Puerto Principe.
Santa Clara and its interests. Other inland
towns. Sancti Spiritus and the buccaneers. The
famous "Trocha." Camagney. Marti and Las
Tunas. A notable victory. In the forested
country. The Sierra Maestra. The northern
ports. A historic spot. The first town in Cuba.

VII ANCIENT SNTIGO 99
Bits of history. The ancient city. The modern
town. A beautiful site. The famous harbor.
The old Morro. The fort's story. First view of
Santiago. Stepping into the past. Famous
characters. Napoleon's doctor. The first school.
Patti's debut. The Virgirim massacre. Santi-
ago's most historic spot. The home of Cortez.
The romance of the conqueror. What Cortez
did for Cuba. Off to the conquest of Mexico.
About the city. A city of hills. The country
about the city. San Juan Hill. El Caney and
the Siboney Indians. Cobre and its Virgin.
The mystery of the image. Miraculous cures.
Pilgrims. Offerings. The story of the Virgin
of Cobre.

VIII TREASUE ISLAND 118
The southern coast. A rocky, barren shore line.
Where the Spanish fleet was destroyed. Haunts
of pirates. Guantanamo. Mnanzailo and other
ports. The Cauto River. Wild life. The "Gar-
dens of the Queen." Trinidad and its past.
Cortez again appears on the scene. The isle of
Pines. The original Treasure Island. The
pirates' lair. Later inhabitants. Buried loot.
Unexplored areas. A sportsman's paradise.
Alligators. Resources and mines. Agriculture.
Health resort. American colonists. Good roads.
Motor cars. Towns. The island's real treasures.
IX PovINCES OF CUBA 131
Descriptions of the six Cuban Provinces with
their locations, characters, geography, resources,
area, principal towns, etc.
X FAUNA AND FLORA 135
Birds, mammal, reptiles, fsh, insects, trees and
plants.







xvi CONTENTS
CHAPTZR PAMG
XI A Brr OF HISTORY 139
Condensed history of Cuba from the time of its
discovery until the present day. The building
of Havana. Attacks by pirates. Fortification of
the city. De Soto's part. Spain's treasure
house. The city impregnable. How Havana
fell to the British. History of Santiago. The
Cuban rebellions. The Spanish War. Loss of
the Maine. Our horrible sacrifices. Results of
our negligence. The transformation of Cuba.
The aftermath of war. Ingratitude. The biter
bitten. Cuba's plight. Herself to blame.

XII LIFE IN HAVANA 162
Taking things easy. The maiian habit. Do as
the Cubans do. Food and drink. Sleep. Bi-
estas. Meals and meal hours. Evenings in
Havana. Getting lost. Hiring cars. Use of
English. Guides and interpreters. Shopping.
Bargaining. Cuba's currency. Tipping. Beg-
gars. The lottery. In the cafe. Wonderful
resources. Arguments. The inspection of res-
taurants. Temperate Cubans. Soft drinks.
Water. Old customs. Clothing worn The
tourist outfit. Things that have passed by.
Living on tourists. Clubs. The wonderful
Clerks' Club. Country Club. Hotels. A noisy
city. Dining. Strange dishes. Some favorite
Cuban dishes. Cocktails. Happy Pete. The
"Presidente." The Sazarac. Bacardi. "Cuba
Libre." Innocuous beverages.

XIII PLACES ABOUT HAVANA .. 190
An alphabetically arranged list of the more im-
portant, interesting and historic buildings,
streets, churches, clubs, monuments, plazas,
parks, forts and government offices with brief
descriptions of their histories, their locations,
etc. Havana's churches. Steamship piers and
lines. Docks and docking facilities.

XIV RECREATIONS 209
Jai-Alai or Pelota. A fast game. Skill. The
fronton or court and its arrangement. How the
game is played. Gambling. Score keeping.
Base ball. Tennis. Golf. Yachting. Motor






CONTENTS xvii
CHAPTKK WAGA
Boating. Fishing. Hunting. Roulette. Bath-
ing. Cabarets. Theaters and cinemas.

XV ITEMS OF INTEREST 215
Peculiar customs. Names of shops and other
establishments. Summoning servants. Panama
hats. Havana houses. Building operations.
Palatial homes. The story of a Havana man-
sion. Wealth and squalor. The Carnival.
Cuba's fiestas. Traffic during carnival. Com-
merce and finance. Natural resources. Exports
and imports. Economic faults. Manufactures
Foreign interests in Cuba. Banking. Molly-
-EdIAntinn_ honls and universities. Havana's
suburbs. The "Yorbidden land." Clubs in and
about Havana. Trade organizations in Cuba.
Holidays. Climate. Population. Railways.
Air transport. Postage for air mails. Army
and navy. Police. Taxicab rates. Taxicab
zones. Baggage. Porters. Baggage handling
rates. Cigars.












ILLUSTRATIONS AND MAPS

View of Havana from Cabafia fortress rontispiece
FACING PAOB
Havana's magnificent capitol, La India statue in
the foreground 26
A bit of rural Cuba 27
The Morro, Havana .. 27
The Prado, with Morro in the distance 42
"Loma del AngeL" The narrowest street in Ha-
vana .43
The "Templete," Havana 58
A vista in Country Club Park 59
In Miramar Park .. 59
Map of Havana (map) 74
Motor roads near Havana (map) following 74
Motor highway from Havana to Guines (map) 74
Route from Havana to Batabano (map) 74
Central highway in Havana Province (map) 75
A study in contrasts. One of the country roads in
Cuba in 1929 .. 90
On Cuba's new central highway 91
Central highway through Matanzas Province
(map) 122
Central highway through Santa Clara Province
(map) 122






xx ILLUSTRATIONS AND MAPS
FACING PAGO
Motor route from Havana to Matanzas (map)
following 122
Central highway through Camaguey Province
(map) foowing 122
Central highway through Santiago (Oriente) Prov-
ince (map) foUowing 122
Central highway through Pinar del Rio Province
(map) .123
A bit of the tropics near Havana 138
One of Cuba's new suburban motor highways em-
bowered with flaming poinciana trees. 139
The old San Francisco Church, now the Customs
House and Post Office, Havana .154
A corner of Principe Fort, Havana 154
Cuba's "Lido." The beach at La Playa, Havana 155
How Cuba has abolished grade crossings 170
Clipped pine trees on Fifth Ave., Miramar 171
A country village. 171
The Belen Church archway over the street, Havana 186
A street in Havana 186


















CUBA OF TODAY











THEN AND NOW


NEVEB shall I forget my first view of Havana;
Havana at sunrise nearly forty years ago when
the red and gold banner of Spain fluttered in the
early morning breeze above grim old Morro and
tourists were undreamed of in Cuba.
Bathed in the rosy light of dawn the city seemed
unreal, almost a phantasmal thing-more like a
painting than an actuality-with its low flat-
topped, multicolored houses above an amethyst
and turquoise sea, with a background of hazy
green hills. Spirals of blue smoke rose upward
in the still air, only the crowing of cocks and the
tinkling of mule bells broke the silence as the ship
slipped through the narrow channel between
Morro and La Punta fort and dropped anchor in
the crowded, shark-infested, filth-reeking harbor.
Today Havana presents a very different pic-
ture. The sea is as blue as ever, the sunrise is as
gorgeously beautiful as of yore, and Morro is al-
most unaltered; but above the ancient fortress the
lone-star flag of Cuba flutters from its staff, the
pastel-colored houses have vanished, and high
above the sea of flat-roofed buildings rise great
palatial hotels, immense office buildings, and, most
conspicuous of all, the mighty golden dome and


CHAPTER I






CUBA OF TODAY


imposing bulk of Cuba's eighteen-million-dollar
capitol. And even at daybreak the air hums and
vibrates with the multitudinous noises of a teem-
ing, busy modern city, a city of more than half a
million inhabitants, with streets and avenues
crowded with automobiles, with trolley cars and
busses and-during the winter months-swarm-
ing with tourists.
Even the harbor has been transformed. No
longer does the filth and sewerage cover its sur-
face with a veritable crust. No longer does it
swarm with sharks. It is as free of the one as
the other, and great concrete and steel docks line
the entire water front of the city, culminating in
the superb Ward Line five-million-dollar terminal.
Even greater changes have taken place in the
city itself. In the old Spanish days, when I first
knew Havana, it was a delightfully foreign, exotic
spot, more picturesque, more redolent of romance
-yes, even dirtier and more malodorous-than
many a city of Old Spain. Over its narrow,
roughly cobbled streets gaily caparisoned mules
with jangling bells drew rumbling, rattling carts.
Brigandish-looking, fiercely moustached rascals,
in broad hats, short jackets, scarlet sashes and
sandals, cracked their long whips and cursed
volubly in Spanish at their tassel- and brass-be-
decked beasts. Women in high combs and man-
tillas peered curiously at strangers from behind
iron window grills. One either walked or rode, in






THEN AND NOW


jolting, lurching coaches or volantes, from the tum-
ble-dowu sheds, that served as docks, tp the cen-
tral paza or elsewhere. Everywhere were side-
walk cafes such as one finds in Madrid or Paris;
everywhere were strutting gorgeously uniformed
Spanish officers and barefooted, woeful-looking
Spanish soldiers and police. And everywhere was
filth-decaying fruit, pools of green, slimy, stag-
nant water with repulsive black vultures gorging
themselves on offal. With all its exotic pictur-
esque charm Havana in those days was a pesthole,
a city where plague, typhoid and yellow fever
raged unchecked and where-after nightfall--one
took one's life in one's hands if one ventured into
a side street or about the water front where street
lights were unknown and thugs and cutthroats
lurked in every black doorway and shadow.
Today the streets of the city are all of asphalt
or concrete. One drives in a motor car wherever
one goes. Coaches and horse-drawn vehicles have
practically disappeared; motor trucks and chauf-
feurs have supplanted the besashed muleteers and
their bedecked mules, and the volante is as extinct
as the dodo. High combs and mantillas have given
way to short skirts, bobbed hair and the conven-
tional feminine attire or New York, Paris or Lon-
don. Gone are the sidewalk cafes with their iron
tables and chairs. Smartly uniformed police di-
rect the congested traffic, operate the signal lights,
patrol the streets and help out confused strangers






CUBA OF TODAY


courteously and efficiently. Few cities anywhere
are more brilliantly electrically illuminated. One
is safer anywhere in Havana than in New York or
any other large North American city. No city in
the entire world can lay better claim to being a
genuine spotless town, and Havana of today is the
world's most healthful city.
Unquestionably the tremendous changes that
have taken place in Havana since Cuba won her
independence have all been for the best. No one
can deny that its modern buildings, its great
hotels, its paved streets and avenues, its vast civic
improvements, its sanitation and its amazing
beautification have transformed Havana from an
all but impossible sink of disease and iniquity to
one of the finest, most beautiful, healthful and or-
derly towns in the world. But the great pity is
that, in this transformation, much, in fact most,
of the city's real charm-its romance, its color, its
strangeness-have been lost. Today Havana is
not-with the exception of a few spots-either un-
usual or particularly interesting. As far as life,
customs, business, people, shops and nearly all
other features are concerned, Havana differs little
from any other city. Electric signs, motion pic-
tures, automobile salesrooms, the American maga-
zines and papers, and, most of all, American
tourists, have almost destroyed everything typical
of the country and the city. Havana is rapidly
becoming Americanized; English isp im






THEN AND NOW


as much as Spanish, and before many years have
passed Havana will have become little more than
a suburb of New York.
To me and to the few others who visited Cuba
in the old days, the island's charm lay in its de-
lightfully colorful, exotic, old-world atmosphere
and its fascinatingly foreign characters, features
and customs. But those are all things of the past.
One may find stranger customs, more unusual
sights and a far more foreign atmosphere in cer-
tain sections of any of our large cities than in Ha-
vana. All that was once so alluringly redolent of
Old Spain has vanished along with the sidewalk
cafes, the roughly cobbled streets, the gaily capari-
soned mule teams, the besashed, brigandish mule-
teers, the mantillas and the Spanish flag.
Today the attractions that annually lure thou-
sands to Cuba are very different from those of the
past. Its proximity and accessibility are strong
points in its favor. It is an ideal spot, only a few
hours from our own shores, wherein one may es-
cape all the rigors of a northern winter. It has
become almost as fashionable a winter resort as
the Riviera, Palm Beach or the Lido. There is a
magnificent and exclusive country club with won-
derful golf links; three yacht clubs, the alluring
and fashionable playa or bathing beach, and the
world-famous race course. And finally it is the
nearest most accessible spot where there is a pala-
tial casino-a veritable Monte Carlo in miniature





6 CUBA OF TODAY
--dedicated to the goddess of chance in every
form, and where liquid refreshments of every
variety are good, safe, abundant and cheap. Pos-
sessing all these attractions and more; with won-
derful opportunities for making "Whoopee" un-
restrained; with splendid motor highways stretch-
ing far into the interior; with bathing, yachting,
fishing, polo-every form of sport and pastime-
and only two hours by plane or a few hours by
steamer from Florida, and less than three days
from New York, it is no wonder that Cuba has
become such a prime favorite resort for thousands
of pleasure-seeking North Americans, not only
during the winter but in the summer as well.
Considering all this, in view of the fact that the
Cubans have devoted every energy to luring tour-
ists to their shores and American dollars to their
pockets, considering that Havana and the Hava-
nese have specialized, commercialized and mod-
ernized their city primarily and principally with
the sole purpose of affording modern comforts and
luxuries and ultra modern forms of entertainment
and recreation for American visitors, it is rather
remarkable that any of the old Havana should re-
main. But it does persist in spite of and not be-
cause of the modernization of the city, and to a
certain extent the Cubans realize that historic
spots and a foreign atmosphere have a strong ap-
peal to strangers. They still feature their old
Morro, the vast rambling Cabafia fortress, and the






THEN AND NOW


few old edifices scattered about Havana. But they
would find a still stronger attraction-and even
greater profits-in the old time sidewalk cafes, the
jangling, betasselled mule teams, the gaudily awn-
inged streets, the high combs and mantillas and
the multicolored buildings could they restore them
for the delectation and delight of tourists.
But if the Cubans cannot restore that which
they have lost, neither can they completely de-
stroy that which remains-that is, not until the
city is completely razed and rebuilt. Until then
we shall still find the ancient, narrow, caflon-like
streets between massive-walled buildings with
iron-grilled windows and facings of Spanish tiles;
with their patios, their flat roofs and their out-
jutting balconies. And to those who did not know
Havana in the old Spanish days the city will still
appear a delightful, quaint and most interesting
spot.










SO THIS IS CUBA


WHIN one first enters the harbor of Havana one
feels most keenly the disadvantage of not being
able to be in two places at the same time. On the
one side rise the gray bulks of old Morro and Ca-
baia castle, the heights of Regla, the observatory,
and many another interesting sight, while on the
opposite side lies Havana itself, the old La Punta
fort, the glorious Malecon drive, the magnificent
Prado, the sea of flat roofs, the lofty modern build-
ings, the great National hotel, and, dwarfing, dom-
inating all, the golden dome and massive bulk of
the Capitol-perhaps the most incongruous ndte
in the whole of Cuba. As the ship slips farther
into the harbor, the waterside docks, the shipping,
the chugging launches and busy traffic of the port,
together with the streams of automobiles, busses
and clanging trolley cars ashore, bring vividly to
the stranger the fact that Havana is a busy, noisy,
commercial center as well as a pleasure resort and
a semi-tropical playground.
Few ports in the world possess finer concrete
docks. They are modern in every sense of the
word, and the stranger-reading the printed in-
structions on the Cuban baggage declaration
forms-may quite reasonably expect that the busi-
8


CHAPTER II





SO THIS IS CUBA


ness of landing and of passing the ordeal of the
Customs is carried on in an equally modern and
up-to-date manner. But never believe too im-
plicitly in what you read or hear-nor, for that
matter, even in what you see-in Cuba. One of
the Cubans' great failings is their love of gesture
-their desire to impress the stranger. Their
mammoth, eighteen-million-dollar Capitol, with a
seventy-carat diamond set in the floor beneath the
dome-a capitol large enough and magnificent
enough to serve the greatest nation on earth-is a
typical example of this Cuban characteristic, and
the same almost childish love of outward show is
everywhere in evidence. The printed directions
on the declaration forms inform all and sundry
that their baggage will be placed under the num-
bers corresponding to their staterooms, and in-
struct the new arrival to wait until all of his or
her impedimenta has been gathered in its proper
place and then notify the nearest inspector, ex-
actly (apparently) as one would do in New York.
It all reads most promisingly and savors of
machinelike efficiency and order. But all order
and efficiency end with the printed words. Once
within the customs shed, it is pandemonium. Of-
ficials, negro porters, hotel runners, guides, trans-
fer agents, disembarking passengers and welcom-
ing friends rush, crowd, jostle, scream, shout, gab-
ble, swear and sweat like a New York subway
crowd during rush hours. Trunks, bags and other





10 CUBA OF TODAY
luggage are thrown here, there and everywhere,
regardless of order or ownership. One must dash
hither and yon, searching wildly for one's prop-
erty, pouncing upon a piece here, another there,
until at last-provided one has good luck and is a
skilled hunter-all are more or less reasonably to-
gether on some bench. Then one peers about in
search of the "nearest" inspector. There are in-
spectors everywhere; some lazily and half-heart-
edly examining the contents of some passenger's
baggage, others chatting and smoking quite ob-
livious of the fact that a dozen or more passengers
are gesticulating wildly and are vociferously de-
manding that they examine the waiting baggage.
As likely as not the "nearest" will ignore every
request-in Spanish or English-and will wander
to some distant spot to begin an examination; or
-when at last one has managed to corral an of-
ficial, he may-in fact the chances are ten to one
he will-leave one's baggage half examined and
begin the examination of some other person's lug-
gage, perhaps eventually to return or perhaps to
completely disappear.
Neither is it possible to foresee what may or
may not happen when a Cuban customs inspector
once takes it into his head to inspect. Although
the Cuban rules are very liberal and visitors are
permitted to import almost anything they desire
for their personal use, and although no declara-
tion as to the contents of baggage is demanded,






SO THIS IS CUBA


and although in the majority of cases the examina-
tion is more of a formality than anything else-
still, one never knows. The psychology of the
Cuban is absolutely unfathomable. For no reason
whatsoever, an official may take it into his head
to go through one's luggage with a fine tooth comb.
He may dump every article onto the dirty bench
or floor, paw the contents over piece by piece, ex-
amine every separate article with the intense in-
terest and minuteness of a scientist discovering
some new and undreamed of form of life. He may
tear out the linings of bags or trunks, rip contain-
ers to pieces and-in his inexplicable search for
something which even he cannot explain-he may
order one stripped naked and searched to the skin.
I am not exaggerating. This has been done and
done without the slightest reason, the least cause,
the least explanation and-naturally-without the
least result save the humiliation, the shame and
the insult to the innocent victim of some ignorant,
pig-headed Cuban's whim.
Only a few months ago an American lady-the
wife of an Englishman who is an official in a large
American industry in Havana-fell a victim to
this sort of thing. Though she had declared and
paid the required tax on two cartons of cigarettes,
though her baggage had been examined and noth-
ing dutiable found, the inspector not only ripped
her trunks apart and dumped all her possessions
upon the floor, but ordered her stripped and






CUBA OF TODAY


searched by a female inspector. In vain her hus-
band protested. In vain he demanded an explana-
tion or a reason for the action. Nothing availed,
and the unfortunate young lady-who had been
under a physician's care and was in a highly nerv-
ous and delicate state-was seized, stripped and
searched, without of course ending anything duti-
able or contraband. The only excuse offered for
this inexcusable and humiliating ordeal was that
the lady had a "bulge" in her dress, which she
did not declare or reveal, although the officials ad-
mitted that the matron's search proved the
"bulge" perfectly natural. Obviously a boyish
form possesses distinct advantages when ladies
are dealing with the Cuban customs. But the most
astonishing part of the entire affair was that the
Cuban Ambassador to the United States declared,
in writing, that the proceeding was "no more than
is customary when dealing with the thousands of
tourists who visit Havana." So if we are to ac-
cept the word of Cuba's representative in Wash-
ington, all American women who visit Cuba my.
confidently expect to be stripped and searched-
especially if their contours disclose "bulges"
But, once past the customs, the visitor to Cuba
is welcomed with-well if not with open arms, at
least with outstretched hands. In the minds of
the Havanese all tourists are fair game. One can-
not blame the natives overmuch for this attitude.
Very largely the visitors have only themselves to






SO THIS IS CUBA 13
blame-or rather their fellow countrymen. For
some inexplicable reason the shrewdest, most
hard-headed American business men-and women
--appear completely to lose all common sense and
idea of values once they join the tourist class.
They become the most gullible and easily cheated
of people, and, judging by results, they place im-
plicit faith in whatever a jitney driver, a profes-
sional guide, a peddler or any other fakir tells
them. Often, when watching the remarkable be-
havior of American tourists in Cuba and else-
where, I have felt much as did the farmer when
he first saw a giraffe: that "there ain't no such
critter 1"
Although abundant literature and leaflets
aboard every ship contain explicit information re-
garding the jitney fares, the tariffs for livery cars,
porters, baggage transfers and similar matters,
and although every licensed chauffeur of a public
vehicle is obliged to produce a printed tariff upon
request, and although everyone knows or should
know that the taxi fare is twenty cents for one or
two persons anywhere in Havana, yet visitors nine
times out of ten never question the charge of some
swarthy taxi driver who barefacedly charges a
dollar to drive the new arrivals from the dock to a
hotel It is the same everywhere. The average
tourist at once advertises himself or herself as a
sucker ready to be trimmed, andjhw C.Cbrare
ast masters at trimming. I have repeatedly seen






14 CUBA OF TODAY
tourists purchasing strings of cheap glass beads-
both from sidewalk vendors and at the curio coun-
ters in the hotels-and paying three, four or even
five dollars for beads which are displayed in the
Woolworth ten cent stores across the street and
which may be bought anywhere in the States for
a few cents. Strings of palpably artificial red
coral are avidly bought at prices which would be
exorbitant for the genuine article, the apparently
sane tourists accepting as incontrovertible truth
the Syrian peddlers' assurances that they are na-
tive Cuban coral Curios of every description are
purchased as native Cuban, although their coun-
terparts marked "Made in Germany" are for sale
in every hole in the wall on Broadway and Sixth
Avenue. And this despite the fact that there are
plenty of genuine and interesting Cuban products
-fans, native wooden articles, snake- and alli-
gator-skin objects-for sale at reasonable prices.
So why should we blame the Cubans, the Span-
iards, the Syrians or the Turks if they profit by
the childishness of full grown men and women
whose money seems to burn holes in their pockets
once they set foot on Cuban soilt
Neither should we waste sympathy on the visi-
tors who-thinking to be really devilish-flock to
third-rate (but thoroughly orderly and respect-
able) cabarets and pay a dollar for a drink-either
of ginger ale or watered spirits. Perhaps this
mania for recklessly throwing away money is a





SO THIS IS CUBA


local disease to which the resident foreigners and
the natives are immune. Perhaps it is the result
of visitors' fear of being considered pikers or
close-fisted. Or again it may and very probably
is the result of the terrific rates charged by hotels,
restaurants and practically every business during
the winter season. Rooms that ordinarily-from
May until January-may be had for two or three
dollars a day soar to twenty or even thirty dollars
daily during the time of the tourist invasion or, as
the Cubans call it--"the second sugar crop."
Restaurant prices, the prices of practically every
luxury and necessity, go skyward in unison, and
the stranger who visits Cuba during the winter
must literally "pay through his or her nose." No
wonder the Cubans think all Americans million-
aires! No one but a millionaire could-legiti-
mately-afford to pay the exorbitant rates in
vogue in Havana during the time when the tourist
harvest is ripe for the garnering.
Yet there is much to be said for the Cuban side
of the matter. For practically nine months in the
year, Cuba and Havana are deserted by strangers
who visit the island for pleasure only. For nine
months the great palatial hotels, the restaurants,
the cabarets are almost empty. For nine months
the merchants-of whom there are fnul]ytix time
as many as are warranted by Htavnana resident
population and purchasingpower-barely manage
to exist. T&en comes the wave of winter visitors,






CUBA OF TODAY


and tourists flock like swarms of locusts into Ha-
vana. For three months-if the season is a good
one-they will arrive by airplanes and steamers
at the rate of hundreds--often thousands-per
day. Hotels will be filled to overflowing. Jitneys
and livery cars will be in constant demand. Res-
taurants will be taxed to their capacity. The
streets will be thronged, the cabarets, the Jai Alai
fronton, the playa--every resort, every place of
entertainment, every historic and most non-his-
toric spots will be crowded with Panama-hatted,
golf-trousered, Kodak-equipped, gaping-mouthed
visitors from the north. The second sugar crop
will have matured and in three short months in-
terpreters, guides, taxi drivers, livery car owners,
sightseeing busses, restaurant keepers, dealers in
curios, cabaret performers, gambling houses, sa-
loons, bars, hotels and what not, must garner the
crop of dollars that provides practically their en-
tire annual income.
And just so long as Americans will uncomplain-
ingly part with their money without getting value
received, just so long as they will offer themselves
as fair prey to every Tom, Dick and Harry, to be
fleeced at every turn, the Cubans-and the Amer-
ican hotel proprietors in Havana as well-will
make their pecuniary hay while the tourist sun
shines-and the more power to them, say I.
Of course the above does not apply to all visi-
tors to Cuba. There are many who go to the






SO THIS IS CUBA


island again and again, who know the ropes, who
speak Spanish, who cannot be swindled, who are
"wise" to the Cubans' ways, who are familiar
with places and prices, and who can pass the win-
ter in Havana without expending a fortune, and
who get value received. There are many others
who-though strangers to Cuba-are experienced
travelers, who do not lose their heads-and their
money-the moment they arrive in a foreign port,
who have no desire to make a splurge, who know
what to expect, what they want and how to go
about getting it. Very quickly the natives learn
to discriminate. Now and then some novice or
over-zealous guide or sightseeing promoter may
accost one of these "wise" ones. But as a rule
the Cuban seems to be blest with an almost un-
canny intuition and ability to recognize the "ten-
derfoot," the out-and-out tourist. But even for
the most seasoned and blase traveler, Cuba is un-
deniably an expensive spot in winter. Even the
resident Americans and British find it a costly
land in which to live, and, while certain commodi-
ties and necessities--meat, vegetables, native
fruits and products, and a few other items-are
cheaper than in the States, rents, servants, cloth-
ing, furniture-nearly every luxury and the ma-
jority of necessities-are far higher in price than
in New York or in any other North American or
European city.
So do not expect to find Cuba a cheap place to






CUBA OF TODAY


visit-even in summer when everything is at its
cheapest. And if you wish to see Cuba and Ha-
vana, and desire to see the island and its capital
without expending an inordinate amount of money,
and are not thrilled by rubbing elbows with fame,
fashion and fortunes, by all means choose the
spring or summer for your visit. You may find it
a trifle warm-though never as unbearably humid
and hot as New York. You may have a few rainy
days, and you will find most of the tawdry, medi-
ocre cabarets and the race course closed. But you
will find bathing at its best. You will fiid roulette,
baccarat, crasp and every other form of gaming in
full swing. You will find fruits and vegetables at
their finest. You will find anything you desire in
the way of accommodations-both in location and
in price-available. You will be able to secure a
much more intimate insight into Cuban life and
customs. You will see the outlying country, the
vegetation, the flowers-the gorgeous poincianas
in all their very glory; and, best of all, you will be
able to secure anything and everything you desire
at less than one third of what it will cost your
friends who visit the island during the winter
months.
I often have been asked if a knowledge of Span-
ish is essential in order to make a visit to Cuba
enjoyable and satisfactory. It depends largely
upon circumstances. If one plans to remain In or
about Havana, Spanish is by no means necessary.






SO THIS IS CUBA


English is spoken in all the hotels, in the great
majority of the restaurants, in the cabarets, the
Casino, at the Playa, by a large number of the po-
lice, by most of the chauffeurs of livery cars and
jitneys, and by clerks in most of the better stores
and shops. On the other hand, if one plans to visit
the outlying country, to motor or travel in the in-
terior of the island, a working knowledge of Span-
ish is essential if one is to get on without a vast
amount of trouble and irritation. But in either
case, the person who understands and speaks
Spanish-even to a limited extent-is at a tremen-
dous advantage. Not only does he obtain a better
insight of Cuban ways and customs, but he saves
himself a great deal of trouble, time and expense,
besides occupying a very different status-in the
estimation of Cubans-from that of non-Spanish-
speaking visitors.
To the Cubans the line drawn between tourists
to be fleeced ab libitum, and non-tourists to be
dealt with cautiously and with a certain amount
of respect, is measured by the strangers' igno-
rance or knowledge of Spanish. Once a visitor
speaks Spanish and can haggle or protest in that
language, the attitude of the native son completely
alters, and prices drop by leaps and bounds. To
be sure, even the Spanish-speaking stranger may,
and nine times out of ten will, be charged far more
than the native or the resident foreigner. But,
unless he deliberately wishes to be cheated and






20 CUBA OF TODAY
overcharged, he will secure anything and every-
thing (aside from accommodations in the big
hotels) far more cheaply than his fellow country-
men, whose ignorance of Spanish at once stamps
them with the hall mark of the tourist. And once
a visitor is known to speak Spanish, he will be
almost, if not entirely, relieved of the exasper-
ating importunities of the army of touts, guides
and interpreters who swarm everywhere during
the season. So if you plan visiting Cuba for more
than a day or two, by all means try and acquire a
working knowledge of the Spanish tongue.










ROUND HAVANA


FoRTO iruLY the oldest and most interesting por-
tion of Havana is that in the vicinity of the docks
and water front, so that the visitor, as he drives
from the pier to the central plaza, where are cen-
tered most of the hotels and modern buildings,
passes from the old to the new and obtains a sort
of cross-sectional impression of the city's growth
and progress.
Here in the older portion of the town are the
narrow, ancient streets, often barely ten feet in
width-veritable cautions between massive old
Spanish buildings fronting directly on the strips
of sidewalk-the hoary old churches and the ma-
jority of historic structures. Through these thor-
oughfares, where the dweller in one house may al-
most literally shake hands with a neighbor across
the way, there flows a steady stream of modern
traffic, incongruously out of place where all the
surroundings, the very atmosphere, are redolent
of centuries past. And the stranger cannot fail to
be filled with wonder that collisions, traffic jams
and blockades do not constantly occur. Motor
cars, lumbering busses, clanging trolley cars rum-
ble, rattle, shriek and roar in a steady procession.
But the streets are all one-way traffic thorough-
21


CHAPTER In






CUBA OF TODAY


fares and, while collisions seem imminent at every
blind corner, accidents seldom occur.
It seems little short of miraculous that the ve-
hicles find space to pass between the buildings, and
still more miraculous that they can navigate the
sharp, short corners. In many places, as a matter
of fact, there really isn't enough space; at many
corners the ends of the trolley cars actually scrape
the walls of the houses, and pedestrians upon the
sidewalks must flatten themselves against the
buildings or must dodge within the nearest door-
way to avoid being crushed when a trolley car or
bus passes.
In places, too, the ancient buildings are joined
by bridge-like passageways, spanning the streets,
while ever and anon one comes most unexpectedly
upon some tiny, sleepy, almost forgotten plaza,
like an oasis in the wilderness of crowded build-
ings and the labyrinth of caion-like streets. Very
often, so narrow are these downtown highways
and so closely packed the buildings, that from a
motor car it is next to impossible to catch sight
of some of Havana's most historic old edifices.
Packed in between warehouses, shops, tenements
and other buildings, are fine old churches and con-
vents-massive fortress-like structures of gray
coral rock, centuries old, with discordant clanging
bells and interiors veritable treasure houses of
faded tapestries, discolored Old Masters and once
magnificent furnishings.






BOUND HAVANA


But to see these, to find the historic spots tucked
away in Havana, one should go exploring afoot.
In one's first drive through the city one catches
only the briefest of glimpses of old Havana be-
fore being whisked as if by magic into the new
city with its wide avenues, its great plazas, its
modern concrete buildings, its palatial hotels, its
electric signs and its gigantic Capitol. But if you
are interested in the romantically historic old,
rather than in the garishly modern new, the
glimpses afforded will whet your appetite for
more.
In olden days Havana was surrounded by an
immensely strong and heavily fortified city wall
with lantern-like sentry boxes at every angle. But
years ago the city burst its bounds and spread
fanwise far beyond the walls. Only remnants of
the structure now remain here and there. One
such is near the new Presidential Palace, another
is near the Capitol, another at the foot of the
Prado, with a few others elsewhere, all carefully
preserved monuments to the past. Yet the limits
once set by the ancient wall may still be traced by
the character of the streets and buildings, the line
of demarcation between the old and the new being
almost as sharply defined as though they were two
distinct cities, the nucleus of the one being the
Plaza de Armas and that of the other the Central
Plaza.
To be sure a few modern buildings have been






24 CUBA OF TODAY
erected here and there in the old part of the city,
and a few ancient structures and narrow old
streets may be found in the newer portion, but
these are exceptions rather than the rule.
The Plaza de Armas in Spanish days was the
hub, the official center of Havana, and is the old-
est portion of the city, dating from 1519. It was
here that the founders of Havana first landed, the
spot being marked by the Templete' on the east-
ern or harbor side of the square. Above the little
building spreads a silk-cotton tree, an offshoot of
the original ceiba tree in whose shade the first
Mass was said in Cuba. A few rods to the north
stands an equally historic pile-the La Fuerza
fort, the oldest building in Havana. Built in 1538
by Fernando de Soto, it was-in those days-
deemed- the most powerful fortification in all
Spanish America. And when, a year after its
completion, De Soto sailed for Florida, he left his
wife, Dofia Isabel, within the safety of the massive
walls of La Fuerza. Here for four long years she
waited patiently, gazing seaward each dawn in
hopes of the joyous sight of the returning ships of
her adventurer husband, whose body rested be-
neath the waters of the Mississippi, until, realiz-
ing there was no longer hope, she died of grief and
a broken heart.
Though De Soto is always associated with the
discovery of the Mississippi, few realize that he
played a most important part in the conquest of





ROUND HAVANA


Peru. Of all the romantic adventurous Dons of
his day, De Soto was by all odds the most chival-
rous, the most humane and the most admirable;
and in the building of La Fuerza he proved him-
self as unusual an engineer as he had proved him-
self an unusual conqueror. For centuries the grim
old fort stoutly and successfully withstood the as-
saults of pirates, buccaneers and all enemies of
Spain, and only fell when the guns of Morro were
trained upon it by the British forces under
Vernon.
For centuries it was not only a fortress but a
treasure house. Within its walls have been stored
millions in gold, silver and precious gems, the car-
goes of galleons and plate ships from Peru and
Mexico, incalculable fortunes awaiting convoy to
Spain and once within La Fuerza, safe from even
the redoubtable Drake or the dreaded Morgan.
Once neglected, falling to bits, its moat filled
with rubbish and filth, this famous old fort was
rescued from its impending fate at the time of the
American invasion and now, partially restored
and used as a barracks, it is preserved as a most
historically interesting monument of Cuba's past.
Unfortunately the other ancient buildings front-
ing on the Plaza de Armas have been so exten-
sively remodeled and restored that little of their
original form or character remains. The old
Presidential Palace on the west, once the residence
of Governors General and the center of all the






CUBA OF TODAY


pomp and ceremony of a Spanish court, was until
recently a most interesting spot. Its spacious
patio filled with flowers and palms, and containing
a magnificent statue of Columbus, its throne room
with its gorgeously upholstered golden furniture,
its splendid hangings and its regal fittings, its
broad marble stairways and its stands of arms
were all redolent of the days when Spain was the
greatest power in the New World.
But today the president occupies a new and
thoroughly modern palace up town. The massive
old structure on the Plaza de Armas has been
stripped of its wonderful old furnishings and has
been so rebuilt that little, aside from the age-gray
stone of its walls, remains. And to complete the
modernizing of the square whereon the first set-
tlers offered up their prayers, huge, ugly concrete
and steel office buildings have supplanted the old
Spanish structures and look down superciliously
upon the once famed fortress, the once proud pal-
ace and the tiny Templete with its centuries-old
ceiba tree.
How the old Dons and velvet-clad grandees
would rub their eyes and gaze in mingled amaze-
ment and terror could they look upon the Plaza
de Armas today I Where once columns of mail-
clad men-at-arms paraded, dozens of motor cars
are parked along the curb. Where halberdiers in
polished casques and steel corselets paced the
ramparts of the ancient fort, are now smart khaki-



































Courtesy, "Havana Post"
Havana's magnificent capitol, La India statue in the foreground.

























A bit of rural Cuba. Entrance to an estate in Oriente.


The Morro, Havana.





BOUND HAVANA


clad soldiers with high-powered rifles. Where be-
wigged, belaced, plume-hatted grandees strolled in
the cool shadows of the palace portales, perspir-
ing, red-faced tourists listen to the raucous voiced
professional guides in "rubber neck" busses. A
clanging trolley car bangs and rumbles along the
street where hurrying link-boys lit the way for
the gilded sedans of haughty grandes dames. And
where once the proud banner of Castile and Leon
flaunted its folds from the mastheads of stately
high-pooped galleons and pot-bellied, purple-
sailed plate ships, moored along the water front
or swinging to anchor in the harbor, belching
steamship funnels loom high above the busy docks,
and wire rigging and radio antennae form a net-
work against the blue sky.
Only a short distance from this historic bit of
old Havana is an almost equally historic if not as
ancient edifice. This is the cathedral on Em-
perado Street, begun in 1656 and completed in
1724. An imposing Latin-Gothic building of gray
limestone though it is, the cathedral's real inter-
ests and wonders are all within its walls. Among
the magnificent paintings it contains is a Murillo
showing the Pope and his Cardinals celebrating
mass on the eve of the sailing of Columbus. The
floors are of truly wonderful marble mosaic; the
altar is a marvelously beautiful affair of Italian
marble; while the golden and gem-encrusted chal-
ices, candelabra, decorations and vestments are






28 CUBA OF TODAY
priceless things which can be viewed only by mak-
ing application to the sacristan.
But it is none of these contents that have made
the Havana cathedral world famous, but the fact
that for many years it contained the supposed
body of Columbus, the remains having been trans-
ferred to Spain and reinterred in the cathedral at
Seville when the Spaniards evacuated Cuba.
Whether or not the bones that rested for so many
years in the Havana cathedral were those of the
discoverer or of another member of his family has
never been quite satisfactorily and conclusively
determined. All that actually is known is that
Columbus was first buried in Valladolid, Spain, in
1508, the body being later taken to Seville and still
later to Santo Domingo, where the casket contain-
ing the remains was deposited in the cathedral.
In 1795, when the French captured Santo Do-
mingo, the retiring Spaniards removed some
human bones which they believed to be those of
Columbus, and carried them to Havana where they
were reburied in the cathedral amid great cere-
mony and pomp.
So far all is undisputed, recorded history. But
the trouble is that, after the casket with its crum-
bling skeletal remains had been taken from the
Santo Domingo cathedral and had been received
and buried with high honors in Havana, a second
casket was found beneath the floor of Santo Do-
mingo's cathedral; a casket containing human






BOUND HAVANA


bones and bearing an inscription stating that the
contents were the remains of "The Illustrious
Cristobal Colon, Discoverer of America, First Ad-
miral, etc." Naturally this discovery did not at
all suit the Spaniards in Cuba, and the contro-
versy twixt the Dominicans and the Cubans be-
came quite heated, each side claiming to possess
the poor old discoverer's real remains and accus-
ing the other of faking. Probably the real truth
may never be definitely established, but unpreju-
diced parties-such as the Italian government, our
own minister to Santo Domingo and others who
have investigated the matter-have come to the
conclusion that the genuine remains of Christo-
pher Columbus were those in Santo Domingo
while the bones taken to Cuba and thence to Spain
were those of his son, Diego.
Still, regardless of whether the niche in Ha-
vana's cathedral held the bones of Columbus or
his son, the cathedral is well worth a visit. And
as one reads the inscription upon the tablet where
the alleged body rested:
"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."
one cannot but ponder on the controversies and
the ingratitude that seemed ever to surround Co-






CUBA OF TODAY


lumbus, that hounded him during his life and could
not even let him rest in peace after death. But in
the light of recent studies, researches and investi-
gations, one can feel very little pity for the great
navigator who, despite his skill as a mariner and
the knowledge of America which he gave to the
world, was a cruel, double-faced, utterly unprinci-
pled impostor and a most accomplished liar and
cheat.
It has been clearly proved by unquestionable
documents-some written by himself-that Co-
lumbus had discovered the New World on a pre-
vious voyage nearly twenty years before he set
out in 14921 It has been thoroughly established
that he was perfectly aware of the fact that he had
not reached Asia, and that, fearing his sailors
might reveal the truth of the matter, he ordered
their tongues cut out to prevent them from talk.
ing! That he exhibited the most devilish and
fiendish cruelty in torturing and murdering the
peaceful and hospitable Indians, merely to pro-
vide meat for his dogs and to afford himself and
his officers a day's "sport," has long been known.
Finally, we must, if we admit the truth and in-
controvertible history, destroy the last shreds of
romance and illusion from his history, for he did
not even originate the idea that the earth was
spherical! The fact that the earth was a globe
was known to the Arabians and other Orientals
centuries before Columbus appeared at the court






ROUND HAVANA


of Ferdinand and Isabella, and the spherical
theory-as well as models of the earth-had been
introduced into Spain by the Moors long before
Columbus's day. In fact the Church had prose-
cuted and put men to death for holding this hereti-
cal view before Columbus had learned to walk.
No wonder he had perfect faith in reaching a
"New World"; no wonder he offered to turn back
if he did not sight land within three days! He
had been over the same ground-or rather sea-
already; he was merely sailing a route he had trav-
ersed before, and was approaching a land he had
already discovered by accident. He knew per-
fectly well where it lay and how far distant, but
Columbus was a firm believer in the spectacular, in
publicity, and in impressing his ignorant country-
men with what to them appeared almost super-
natural powers of divination. And, by a strange
whimsy of Fate, even after death his remains con-
tinued to deceive the world.
Of course no visitor to Cuba feels that he has
adequately "done" Havana unless he crosses the
harbor and inspects Morro and Cabaia. And as
both these ancient fortifications have played most
prominent parts in the Island's history they are
well worth a visit. Crossing the bay by ferry or
motor boat one finds a winding, covered way lead-
ing up the hillside to Cabafia, and, as the climb is
stiff, hot and tiresome, the wisest plan is to choose
the early morning for the visit.





CUBA OF TODAY


Although Cabana was originally designed as a
fortress, yet it never actually has been used for
that purpose and has always served as a barracks
and as a prison for political captives during the
numerous revolts of the Cubans in old Spanish
days. In those troublous eras in Cuba's history,
countless patriots were imprisoned, tortured and
executed within the confines of the immense pile
and-if we are to believe apparently reliable
sources of information-the heights still echo fre-
quently to rifle shots as some unfortunate man who
has been too outspoken or too actively antagonis-
tic to the existing government faces a firing squad.
In the old days when summary executions were
not carried out so secretly as at present, the con-
demned men were forced to kneel facing a wall in
the dry moat known as the "Laurel Ditch" and
were there riddled by the bullets of Spanish sol-
diery. Even today the line of bullet marks is eas-
ily seen extending along the wall for nearly one
hundred feet, and is known as the "Dead line."
Here, too, a bronze tablet marks the spot where in-
numerable Cubans were martyrs to the cause of
liberty and, quite naturally, all patriotic Cubans
regard the place almost as sacred.
But old enmities have been forgotten in the few
years since the last Cuban was shot down by Span-
iards in the Laurel Ditch, and today the Cubans
are far more friendly toward the Dons than to-
ward Americans who enabled them to throw off






ROUND HAVANA


the irksome Spanish yoke and made their dream
of liberty come true. But after all that is but
natural and to be expected. Blood is thicker than
water; the ideals, the customs, the psychologies,
the languages, the traditions, as well as the blood
of Cubans and Spaniards, are one; while the Ibe-
rian and the Anglo-Saxon are separated by racial,
linguistic, traditional, psychological and other bar-
riers that never may be overcome. Moreover, the
great bulk of the commercial enterprises-the
more important mercantile houses, the restaurants
and other businesses-are largely, I might even
say almost wholly, in the hands of Spaniards. In
fact it may truthfully be said that in many re-
spects the Spaniards control Cuba more com-
pletely today than when the island was a colony
of Spain, even though it is a commercial control
and maintained by dollars instead of by the grim
old guns that point their useless muzzles through
the obsolete embrasures of old Cabafia.
Once within the walls of this famous structure
that completely covers the heights above the har-
bor, one realizes the vast size of the fortress.
Over one thousand feet in width, it stretches for
more than a mile-a gigantic labyrinth of massive
masonry-and it is not surprising to learn that it
cost over fourteen million dollars and was eleven
years in the building, the work having been com-
menced in 1763 and completed in 1774. So great
was the cost and so stupendous the labor involved,






CUBA OF TODAY


that it is said that King Charles II-when told
of the outlay-peered from his window toward
the west and remarked that in his opinion the
walls of such a costly edifice should be visible
from Spain!
Perhaps the most interesting sight at Cabafia is
the splendid view of the city that is spread before
one: a magnificent panorama of Havana, the busy
harbor, the rolling green country beyond, and with
star-shaped Atares fort standing boldly forth on
the hill at the head of the harbor-a lasting monu-
ment to Crittenden and his fifty companions, who
were shot down, without even the farce of a trial,
within its walls.
Far greater in historic interests than Cabafia
and much older is the Morro which was completed
and in use in 1597-six years before Cabana was
begun. Much of the original fort has, however,
vanished, having been replaced or added to by
more modern structures and defenses, with the re-
sult that Havana's Morro does not appear nearly
so ancient or medieval as the Morro at Santiago
de Cuba or San Juan, Porto Rico. Still it is a
stout old fort and, while it could be reduced to
dust by a few well placed modern shells, it was im-
pregnable to the assaults of centuries and was
never taken but once. At that time it proved more
of a menace than a safeguard to Havana, for
when, in 1762, the British under Vernon took the
Morro by strategy, they trained its guns on the






BOUND HAVANA


helpless city and forced the Spaniards to sur-
render.
Clinging to the wave-washed, rugged rocks like
a barnacle, the walls of Morro rise sheer for one
hundred to one hundred and twenty feet above the
sea. To scale those walls on the water-front side
would be humanly impossible, and the landward
side is protected by great moats, seventy feet in
depth and forty feet in width, hewn from solid
rock and provided with a drawbridge in true me-
diaeval castle fashion. Within the immensely thick
walls is a large central court or parade sur-
rounded by casemates and with a stone ramp lead-
ing downward to the dungeons and the sea. Many
of these gloomy cells are cut from solid rock and
are below sea level, while in one spot is a steeply
inclined chute leading through the thick walls.
In the old days this served as a slide by means
of which prisoners-both living and dead-were
dumped into the shark-infested sea, the "sido de
tiburones" (sharks' nest) below the walls.
Today Morro serves the useful purpose of a
lighthouse and signal station-the lighthouse hav-
ing been erected in 1844-while the few service-
able guns in the fort are used only for saluting
or-as recently happened-for shelling an ap-
proaching waterspout and thus preventing it from
breaking over the harbor and town.
Of course there are many other old and historic
buildings in Havana, not to mention such interest-






CUBA OF TODAY


ing places as the museum, the university, the bo-
tanic gardens and other public institutions. But
there is also much to be seen in the new and mod-
ern portion of the city. Here facing the great
central Plaza, with its statue of Marti, are the
splendid Asturian Club (Centro Asturianos)
building, the Hotel Inglaterra, the National Thea-
tre, the Gallego Club, the Hotel Plaza, innumer-
able typically Spanish arcades or "portales" and
-close at hand-Cuba's crowning pride, her
greatest gesture-the "Capitolo."
That the capitol is a magnificent, a most beauti-
ful and impressive edifice, no one can deny. It
may almost be conceded to be-as the Cubans
claim-the finest capitol in the world. Its im-
mense dome is covered with real gold, its archi-
tectural proportions are sublime, and its interior
decorations and furnishings are indescribable in
their regal magnificence. But it is wholly out of
place in Cuba. It is criminal folly and inexcus-
able extravagance, for an island in sore financial
straits, and with barely three million inhabitants,
to expend over eighteen million dollars on a capi-
tol building in a city of half a million people. The
Havana capitol serves its most useful purpose in
standing as an enduring and impressive monu-
ment to the Latin's inherent love of what is most
aptly designated as "splash." But as the Cubans
almost worship the grand gesture, and as they
possess a marvelous superiority complex, there is





BOUND HAVANA


every reason why they should regard their Capi-
tol as the very epitome of their ideals and should
be inordinately proud of it. And there is every
reason why they should be proud of the magnifi-
cent parks, gardens and drives that surround it.
No city in the world can boast of a more beauti-
ful section than that that has been developed as a
setting for the Capitol with its broad, perfectly
surfaced avenues, its wide brilliantly lit sidewalks,
its lawns, parks, flowers and trees. If there is
one thing which the Cubans can do really well it is
that of beautifying a boulevard, a street, a park or
the grounds of a building by means of lawns,
flowers, shrubbery and trees. And no people on
earth can even approach the Cubans when it comes
to the incredible rapidity with which such beauti-
fying is accomplished.
Take the grounds surrounding the Capitol, for
example. When the building was at last com-
pleted, the surroundings appeared like a battle-
field. The earth was torn up, covered with debris,
littered with concrete forms, broken boxes, cases
and crates; piled high with discarded stones, heaps
of gravel and rubbish. Thus it appeared at sun-
down on the eve of its formal opening, with the
ceremonies scheduled for ten o'clock the following
morning. But when day dawned and crowds gath-
ered about the new Capitol, to witness the cere-
monies, a miraculous transformation had taken
place. Well might the people have rubbed their






CUBA OF TODAY


eyes and stared incredulously. No longer were
the Capitol grounds a chaotic eyesore of litter. As
if by magic the rubbish, gravel piles, broken
boards and timbers, empty crates and cases, con-
crete mixers and idle machinery had vanished.
Before the imposing building were broad green
lawns, rows of flowering shrubs, clipped hedges,
ornamental flower beds and stately palms! In
twelve hours, the bare, rubbish-strewn area of
holes and mounds had been transformed into a
bit of park-like grounds that might-as far as ap-
pearances went-have been there for years.
No wonder a visiting American, who had seen
the Capitol grounds a week earlier and now, re-
turning from Panama, saw them in their altered
state, declared that Cuba must possess the most
fertile soil and most wonderful climate in the
world in order to have produced lawns, shrubbery
and trees in six days But in reality it was all
very simple. Great rolls of turf-strips had been
rapidly laid. Palms, shrubs, plants and bushes,
growing in wooden tubs, had been set in the earth,
and in a few short hours that had been done which
in another land would have required years to ac-
complish.
It was the same with the Prado. Overnight this
magnificent avenue, that stretches from the plaza
to the sea, was provided with a double row of
shade trees, lawns and flower beds. When it
comes to transforming barren grounds to parks or






BOUND HAVANA


gardens there is nothing of the maiana habit about
the Cubans.
Of all Havana's streets, the Prado and the Male-
con are perhaps the most famed, and while many
of the newer avenues are wider, better paved and
more beautiful in some ways, still the Prado and
the Malecon hold their own; and nowhere in the
world is there a more delightful or beautiful drive
than the Malecon at night, with the moonlit sea
on one hand and the seemingly endless curve of
gem-like lights on the other. Most appropriately
have the Cubans nicknamed it the "Sea's Neck-
lace," for it is a necklace that even the gloriously
blue sea might well be proud to wear.
The Prado itself was designed and built by the
Spaniards when General Tacon was in power, but
it was not fully completed nor brought to any-
thing like its present state until the time of the
American occupation. It was at this time, too,
that the Malecon was built, thus continuing the
Prado to form in conjunction with the Malecon,
one of the most attractive parkways in the world.
At the foot of the Prado, where it joins the
Malecon, are the band stand and the ancient La
Punta fort, with the narrow harbor mouth and the
Morro beyond. Until recently the Malecon ended
at La Punta, but recently it has been extended and
now is carried in a broad, curved sweep along the
edge of the harbor to the Plaza de Armas and the
docks. Although old La Punta fort possesses con-






CUBA OF TODAY


siderable historic interest and is one of the orig-
inal fortifications of Havana its most interesting
features are on its exterior, the interior having
been transformed to naval barracks, government
offices, etc.
To the right of the old fort is a large savanna
or plaza, beyond which, and facing a broad avenue
leading toward the sea, is the new Presidential
Palace, one of the finest of Havana's newer build-
ings. Hardly a stone's throw from this imposing
and magnificent home of Cuba's executive, with its
beautiful park-like surroundings and the broad
avenues, is the narrowest and one of the oldest
streets in Havana-the Loma del Angel, with the
Los Angeles church, its roof and spires prickly
with miniature steeples-one of the most attrac-
tive bits of the older Cuban architecture. Here,
too, close to the Palace and in striking contrast to
it, is one of the few remaining bits of the old city
wall, with a single outjutting sentry-box on one
corner. On the other side, between the Palace and
La Punta, is a monument to commemorate the
massacre of eight youthful Cuban students in 1871.
Accused of insulting the memory of a Spaniard,
they were tried and acquitted. But later, to ap-
pease the clamor of the Spanish rabble, they were
mercilessly shot near this spot.
One of the most interesting places in any Latin-
American country is the market, and Havana's
largest market-the Colon-is close to the Palace,






BOUND HAVANA


only one block from the Hotel Plaza and occupy-
ing the entire square between Montserrate and
Zuleta Streets.
Here let me digress long enough to mention the
fact that practically every street in Havana has
at least two names: one the old-often Spanish-
name, the other the new Cuban name. But it is
very doubtful if one could find a dozen residents
of Havana who are familiar with the newer names
of a tenth of Havana's streets. The names they
have borne for centuries still stick and will remain
for many years to come. The government may
officially rename Calle Obispo, Calle O'Reilly, and
the Prado, but to the majority of Cubans-and to
most visitors as well-they will still be Obispo,
O'Reilly and the Prado.
But to return to the market. Everywhere in
the closely crowded stalls are fruits and vegeta-
bles of every variety, color and size. Many are
familiar-there are pumpkins, squashes, melons,
corn, eggplants, turnips, cabbages, beets, peas and
beans, bananas, oranges, strawberries and scores
of others that seem like old friends. But there are
fully as many more which are totally strange to
the visitor who has never before been in the Amer-
ican tropics.
Here are bananas such as are never seen in the
north-bananas of every imaginable size, form
and color; tiny, thin-skinned, sugary-sweet ba-
nanas; slender green-and-red-spotted varieties;





CUBA OF TODAY


mottled bananas that look as if covered with snake
or lizard skins; short, stout, orange bananas; va-
rieties that are bright green when ripe; varieties
that are covered with black blotches and appear
half decayed but are among the most delicious of
all, while side by side with them are the innumer-
able varieties of their cousins the plantains which,
boiled, baked or fried, are among the most de-
lectable and nourishing of vegetables and are the
staple articles of diet throughout the tropics.
Pineapples of course are legion, for no better
pines exist than those grown in Cuban soil.
Limes, lemons, grapefruit, tangerines, oranges
and delicious sweet-limes are in great piles on
every hand. Then there are the rough, pear-
shaped green guandbasas or sour-sops used in
concocting refreshing drinks and in making ice
cream; anonas or custard apples-than which
there is no more delicious fruit; cherimoyas, star-
apples; rose-apples-with the scent and flavor of
attar of roses; sapotes, rough, leather-colored
fruit with spicy orange meat; nisperos or sapo-
dillas, with rich sugary pulp though they appear
externally like decayed pears; fruta de bomba,
known elsewhere as papaya (a name that cannot
be mentioned in Cuba); guavas and prickly pears
and-during the spring and summer months-the
greatest favorite, the most popular of all tropical
fruits, the mangoes.
During the mango season the vendors of these






































uIresy, navan1a rosr
The Prado (now Paseo de Marti) with Morro in the distance.
























































-Ir







"Loma del Angel." The narrowest street in Havana.






BOUND HAVANA


fruits are everywhere. Men and women stand or
sitafeve-ry street corner selling them. Carts em-
bowered in palm leaves and drawn by horses with
jangling bells are laden to overflowing with them.
Every tiny shop displays them, and the markets
are filled with them. To the Cuban-to all dwel-
lers in the tropics, in fact-the mango is the fruit
par excellence. The mango season in tropic lands
is like the apple or the peach season to us of the
north, only more so. And while many northern-
ers do not like the mango-or claim it requires an
acquired taste-this is usually due to the fact that
the average visitor never tastes a really good
mango. Mangoes vary more in quality and flavor
than do apples. There is as much difference be-
tween the ordinary or garden variety of mango
and a really select grafted mango as between a
wild green seedling apple and a tissue-wrapped
Jonathan from the orchards of Oregon or Cali-
fornia. A poor, even a mediocre, mango is about
the worst fruit imaginable. Its rind is tough, its
pulp a mass of fibers, its seed a huge furry stone,
and it reeks of turpentine. But a really fine
mango has a skin like satin, its pulp is as smooth
and free from fibers as that of a peach, its stone is
small and smooth and its flavor is beyond words
to describe. So do not condemn the mango until
you are sure you have sampled the best, and no-
where are there better bests than those of Cuba.
Interesting as are the sections of the market de-





CUBA OF TODAY


voted to fruits and vegetables, they form but a
small portion of the whole and are by no means
the most interesting. Aside from their odor, the
fish stalls are most attractive and no devotee of
angling should fail to visit them. Here are deni-
zens of the tropic seas that will make the
stranger's eyes fairly bulge. Giant yellow and
black Morro crabs; immense clawless lobsters with
peacock tints; crayfish and shrimps; eels, oysters
and shellfish; and piles of cuttlefish or octopus-
great favorites with the Cubans and Spaniards.
But most in evidence of all are the multicolored,
rainbow-hued, weirdly formed fish. Brilliant
scarlet pargos or snappers; crimson squirrel fish
with immense blue eyes; green, golden, black and
orange, silver and purple, turquoise and cerulean
blue angel-fish, with filmy streaming wings and
tails; flounders gleaming with the prismatic colors
of the rainbow; parrot fish with protruding teeth
and with bodies painted in the most gorgeous
blues, greens, yellows, reds and purples; scintil-
lating, jewel-like pompanos and bonitos-ame-
thyst-colored trigger-fish with immense heads
seemingly without bodies and armed with long
lancet-like spines; trunk-fish and cowfish; porcu-
pine-fish and swordfish; mackerel and kingfish;
and-nine times out of ten-a few good-sized
sharks, for sharks are excellent eating despite
popular ideas to the contrary.
Fully as interesting and unusual is the poultry






BOUND HAVANA


section, for while barnyard fowl, ducks and geese,
turkeys and guineas, doves and pigeons-even
quail, partridges, pheasants and wildfowl-are all
familiar enough, the Cuban method of selling poul-
try is unique. If one wishes an entire bird it may
be purchased either alive, dead but unplucked, or
properly drawn and plucked, as one may desire.
But if one's needs are less or one's family is too
small to require a whole chicken, duck or turkey,
one is not forced to buy more than one requires.
The Cuban poultryman sells fowl in sections as
readily as whole, and one may purchase a breast,
wing, leg, neck, tail, or even a head or giblets, sep-
arately. It strikes the northerner as strange to
see a stall where all conceivable portions of fowls'
anatomies are separately displayed. But it is per-
haps even stranger to find the poultrymen's stalls
surrounded by stalls wherein women are selling
flowers and plants, where the sweet scent of roses,
jasmine, tuberoses and gardenias mingle with the
odor of fish and fowl, of raw meat and ancient
codfish, while next door are shoes or laces, cheap
jewelry or dry goods. But like all Latin-American
markets these huge indoor markets of Havana are
veritable cities of stores under a single roof, and
all possible and many seemingly impossible ob-
jects are for sale.
Yet in many ways the out-of-doors markets are
more unusual, more exotic and more interesting
than those held indoors. In certain sections--as






CUBA OF TODAY


in the suburbs known as the Vedado-free public
markets are held in the plazas on certain mornings
each week. From dawn until eleven in the fore-
noon the plaza is transformed into a chaotic riot
of color, sound, smell, crowds, vegetables, fruits,
poultry, fish, litter and rubbish. But at the stroke
of eleven the market ends. Like the traditional
Arabs, the black, brown, yellow and white or near-
white vendors fold up their tents, their tables,
their awnings, and, gathering their remaining
stock into sacks, baskets and crates, vanish as if
the earth had swallowed them up. No sooner are
they gone than the scavenging brigade appears.
The plaza-strewn with fruit skins, paper, de-
cayed vegetables and rubbish of every sort and
seemingly as hopeless of cleansing as the famous
Augean stables-emerges as clean, neat and or-
derly as any well-kept park. Within half an hour
from the time the plaza was a babel of voices and
a bedlam of buying and selling, it once again is
a shady restful park with children playing on the
lawns and nursemaids chatting on the benches
under the trees.
Here again the Cubans score. If cleanliness is
next to godliness then surely the Cubans should
find a short road to heaven. Whatever else their
faults may be, whatever the shortcomings of Ha-
vana, lack of cleanliness is not among them. No-
where in any city I have ever visited is there a
more efficient street cleaning department, and no-






BOUND HAVANA 47
where is there a garbage collecting system that
can compare with that of Havana. In the first
place, the householder whose garbage can is out-
side the door before the collecting force appears is
fined. If, on the other hand, it is not placed in
readiness for the approaching brigade, a penalty
is imposed. And the brigade-for it can be called
nothing else-moves, works and carries on with
the speed, precision and efficiency of a military
force.
With warning bell the great tank-like, covered
motor-truck comes ponderously, steadily along the
street. Ahead of it run two denim-uniformed
blacks; beside it hurry a third and fourth; on its
tail-board are perched two more, while behind it
comes a rear guard of two more uniformed ne-
groes. The advance guard seizes the waiting cans,
tosses each in turn to their fellows beside the
truck who toss them to the men on the tail-board.
Quickly the contents are dumped into the tank, the
empty tin is tossed to one of the men following
in the rear and is replaced in the doorway whence
it came. In an almost continual stream the cans
move from hand to hand as the truck proceeds
slowly-never stopping-and the rattle and bang
of the containers, as they are emptied, tossed and
replaced, sounds like the clatter of some mechani-
cal device. Not the least important part of the
outfit is the fellow following in the rear of all.
To him falls the duty of picking up every stray






48 CUBA OF TODAY
bit of paper, every fruit skin or cabbage leaf or
other flotsam that falls or has fallen into the street
or upon the sidewalk. As a result, when the pon-
derous gray tank with its attendant black crew
has passed by, the streets and sidewalks are as
bare of litter as Mother Hubbard's cupboard was
bare of bones. Moreover, Havana's thoroughfares
are swept, washed and-yes-actually vacuum-
cleaned, nightly, in a way that puts even our
boasted Canal Zone to shame. Indeed, were I
asked to name the most commendable and out-
standing feature of Havana, I should unhesi-
tatingly reply: its cleanliness.











THE PLAYGROUND


A FEW years ago, when one ventured beyond the
confines of Havana, it was to find oneself in a
waste of dumps, unkempt, weed-filled waste lands,
small farms and squalid barrios or settlements of
poverty-stricken, ragged negroes. Here and there
muddy, rutty, almost impassable cart-tracks me-
andered across the waste of brushy pastures,
badly tilled fields, reeking swamps and occasional
estates. Here and there one might find a fairly
decent house surrounded by palms and an attempt
at gardens. Still more rarely one might come
upon a really fine home. But as a whole all at-
tractiveness, all comforts, all civilization, one
might say, ceased at the outskirts of the city. But
today the suburbs of the city form the most at-
tractive, the most beautiful, the most fashionable
and the most favored and frequented portion of
all Cuba. Here is the real winter playground, not
only of thousands of northern visitors, but of all
well-to-do Cubans as well. Here are the innumer-
able palatial temples of the cult of "Whoopee."
Here are the homes of the richest Cubans and mil-
lionaire winter residents. Here are great hotel
and the lavishly designed and magnificently ap-
pointed means of enjoying any and every sport
49


CHAAPTER& IV






50 CUBA OF TODAY
and recreation. And here are the beautiful and
select residential districts.
Nearest of all these charming suburbs is the
Vedado reached by bus, trolley line or motor car,
with its countless beautiful homes, its hotels, its
splendid parks and gardens and its princely man-
sions embowered in palms, shrubs and flowering
trees. Driving along the splendid Malecon, past
Maceo park and the imposing Maine monument,
the magnificent sweep of sea and parkway are only
marred by the poor condition of the roadway.
Few drives in the world can compare with the
Malecon for sheer beauty, yet for some inexpli-
cable reason the Cubans-who are quite pardon-
ably proud of the Malecon and never tire of boast-
ing of it-appear to think its pavement was laid
to endure forever without attention. It is full of
cracks, hollows and holes, and in places is in worse
condition than many of the country cart roads.
Still, in comparison with the majority of the
streets in the Vedado, reached at the end of the
Malecon, it seems almost perfect. To be sure the
main avenues of the Vedado are in fairly good
condition, but the majority of the cross streets
are indescribably awful, and in many cases are
impassable. Unpaved, deep in red mud, filled with
holes, ruts, puddles and stones, they are more like
river beds than streets; yet they are bordered by
beautiful grounds and magnificent homes, and the
stranger marvels that the residents do not rise in






THE PLAYGROUND


arms and demand that something be done to ren-
der their homes accessible without endangering
life, limb and vehicles. Indeed, when the United
States Minister to Cuba took a residence in the
Vedado, it was found that the thoroughfare lead-
ing past it was in such utterly impassable state
that a gang of men were forced to repair it before
the diplomat could approach his new home by
motor car.
But as the Cubans do not appear to mind bump-
ing into holes and over hogbacks and splashing
through pasty red mud in going to and from their
homes, and as the resident foreigners' protests
and demands carry no weight, it is highly probable
that the roads in this otherwise admirable resi-
dentials district will long remain-as they have
remained for long-a disgrace to any community
and irrefutable evidences that the Cubans still
have much to learn in regard to municipal admin-
istration and improvement.
Aside from several large hotels-one quite ex-
clusive-the tallest apartment buildings in Ha-
vana, and a few public buildings, the Vedado is
wholly composed of residences. But once the Ve-
dado is passed and the Almendares bridge is
reached, the residential area is left behind, and
one enters Havana's beautiful system of parks
and playgrounds. Close to the drawbridge is the
baseball field and tennis club. Dozens of yachts--
steam, power and sail-lie at anchor off the club






CUBA OF TODAY


house below the bridge, and beyond stretches the
magnificent "Fifth Avenue" with its dual road-
ways separated by lawns, flowers, shrubs and
trees, with a central concrete footway.
In every way the Cubans have laid themselves
out to transform this straight five-mile stretch of
avenue into a beauty spot. And they have suc-
ceeded admirably. Everywhere are beds of gor-
geous flowers. Everywhere are shrubs, trees and
vines, clipped into fantastic shapes; and, on either
side, the road is lined with formally trimmed pine
trees. It is claimed by Floridians that the Cubans
received their inspiration for clipping trees from
Miami, but the Cubans as stoutly maintain that
the landscape gardeners of Miami were the copy-
cats and followed Cuban ideas. However the case
may be, the fact remains that to a northerner the
extremes to which the Cubans have gone in tree
and shrub trimming are a revelation and never-
ending source of wonder and admiration. Not
only are the privet, box, cedar and other shrubs
clipped into innumerable forms, but vines are
subjected to the same treatment; and one sees
magenta- and scarlet-flowered bougainvillea-not
clambering over porches, fences, walls or trellises
-but forming gorgeous, glowing masses in the
forms of immense baskets, symmetrical cones,
pyramids, globes, urns, stars or even clipped to
the shapes of birds and animals. And it must be
confessed that bougainvillea, thus clipped, shows






THE PLAYGROUND


off to far greater advantage than as a meander-
ing clambering vine. And while pine trees might
appear to present the least of possibilities for
the tree-clipping artist, in Havana they yield as
readily and as satisfactorily as yews to the
process.
Speeding along this fine avenue, one passes but
few residences, for it is a comparatively newly de-
veloped section and waste land stretches on both
sides. But presently one passes the Almendares
yacht club and playa and, a little farther on, the
Marianao playa and Casino are reached.
Perhaps of all this winter playground's many
attractions, the Playa is the most popular and the
most patronized. Not only does it possess a mag-
nificent white sand beach (brought, by the way, by
the shipload from Florida) with over one thou-
sand bath houses for the accommodation of visi-
tors, but in addition, a bar, a ball room, a dining
pavilion and a casino; in short the Playa is a self-
contained pleasure resort with all the trimmings
complete under one roof. Moreover it is cheek by
jowl with the splendid Havana Yacht Club and the
Navy Yacht Club, with their equally excellent
bathing beaches and their fleets of star-boats,
yachts, speed boats and launches anchored a few
rods off shore so that, taken altogether, the Playa
is a colorful, gay, lively and quite properly fash-
ionable spot.
Across the avenue from the grounds of the






CUBA OF TODAY


Playa is the Country Club Park, an indescribably
beautiful stretch of nearly one thousand acres of
hills, vales, lakes, woods and meadows with a
winding river, beautifully kept drives, avenues of
palms, clumps of exotic shubs and glorious flowers,
the whole forming the most attractive of residen-
tial sections, with imposing palatial residences of
wealthy Cubans and Americans here and there.
The Country Club itself is one of the finest in
America, a very exclusive organization, with a
most perfect golf course and an out-of-doors dance
floor where, on Sunday afternoons,- all the "Who's
Who" of Havana and most of the visiting elite
gather for thes dansants.
Rather more popular, and with no pretence to
exclusiveness, is the Casino, a few steps distant.
Here, during the winter months, is a miniature
Monte Carlo-and not so miniature at that-
where, to the half dozen roulette tables, the games
of baccarat and other gambling devices, thousands
flock nightly to lose or win or merely to look on.
Although the Casino is neither a very beautiful
nor imposing building, either within or without,
the pool and fountain of dancing nymphs before
its entrance is one of the most beautiful things in
Havana, the sculptured nymphs encircling the
fountain invariably arousing the greatest expres-
sions of admiration from all visitors.
But the Country Club, the Playa, the Yacht
Club and the Casino are by no means the only






THE PLAYGROUND


resorts for pleasure seekers and "Whoopee"
makers that Havana offers. A mile or two be-
yond the Country Club is the Chateau Madrid,
and opposite it the Sans Souci-by all means
the best, the most select and the most attrac-
tively situated of all Havana's innumerable cab-
arets and night clubs. Yet neither the term
cabaret nor night club really fits these two popu-
lar resorts. They are open-air restaurants, dance
palaces, ball rooms, gardens and cabarets com-
bined, wholly unlike anything to be found in the
north.
Surrounded by beautiful gardens, are the Span-
ish-tile dance floors, bordered by numerous tables
under the shade of gaudy umbrellas, and illumi-
nated by thousands of colored lights festooned
amid the trees and foliage. To add to the exotic
and unusual atmosphere, peacocks strut about the
lawns; gaudy macaws and parrots chatter and
screech from perches amid the shrubbery; troop-
ials, mocking birds and other songsters whistle
and trill; deer graze between the flower beds;
and there is even a quota of monkeys, with long-
necked, scarlet flamingoes stalking in the lily-
filled pools.
As is a common custom in Cuba, these resorts
sport two orchestras each, one dispensing Ameri-
can music, the other a native Cuban band; and the
dreamy danmon, the rumba and other native
dances alternate with jazz, fox trots and waltzes.






CUBA OF TODAY


But if the visitor desires the real thing in Cuban
music and dances, he should patronize one of the
less pretentious cabarets in or near town. To be
sure there is nothing very devilish about such re-
sorts as the Inferno or other equally suggestively
named places. Very largely they are most innoc-
uous and quite orderly; the "show" as a rule is
second rate; and outrageous prices are charged
for everything edible or drinkable. Still they are
worth a visit for the purpose of obtaining a new
slant on Cuban night life-as doled out to tourists
-and as a general thing a fairly good rumba
dancer or two will be numbered among the per-
formers. But to see the rumba as it should be
danced-and often as prohibited by the Havana
police-go farther afield. Drive to Hoyo Colo-
rado, to any of outlying villages, and slip into a
native dance hall some fiesta evening. There is
no danger; the natives, brown, black-and-tan, and
evil looking as they may be, will consider it a great
honor-and incidentally great profits-to have an
Americano or two among them. Despite the fact
that they have all the earmarks of cutthroats,
thugs and robbers, you need fear neither for your
person nor your possessions, if you behave your-
self and keep your pocketbook in an inaccessible
pocket.
Like many another dance considered "native"
in Latin America, the rumba is of African origin.
But the symbolic, suggestive, savage dance of the





THE PLAYGROUND


natives of the Dark Continent has been combined
with features of the Cuban aborigines' dances, and
with a little of the Spanish, in addition. As
danced today, it is quite distinct from anything of
the sort elsewhere. In some respects-in its body
wiggles and abdominal contortions-it is reminis-
cent of the hula-hula, while the vibration of the
upper portion of the torso is an exaggerated
"shimmy." "Evil is to him as evil thinks" may
be most aptly applied to the rumba. Regarded
purely as a native dance, there is nothing really
objectionable about it; but if one is looking for
the sensual side of it, for the suggestiveness, those
features will be obvious enough.
Properly performed, the rumba calls for a man
and a woman, although in most places it is danced
by a woman alone and, preferably, by a rather
more than plump woman, for the motions demand
an abundance of flesh to wiggle and shake prop-
erly. Probably the most attractive feature of the
rumba is the costume worn. This consists of the
now wholly obsolete gala dress of the Cuban coun-
try girls in the old days-a rather filmy inade-
quate bodice, low-necked and sleeveless, and a lacy,
elaborately draped and beribboned skirt gathered
as high as or higher than the knees in front, open
almost to the waist on the sides and falling in a
train in the back-in some ways not so very differ-
ent from the latest styles in evening frocks. On
the head is worn a sort of turban. Aside from the






CUBA OF TODAY


body contortions and amazing shimmies, the dance
consists principally of short steps, a suggestive
lifting of the skirt, and singing the decidedly
risque rumba song to the barbaric rhythm of so-
called music produced by a small drum, a gourd
rattle, a violin, a fife or piccolo and a nutmeg-
grater-like instrument which produces a peculiar
rasping sound.
Fortunately for the average tourist or Ameri-
can visitor, the words of the song are unintelli-
gible, and one catches only the oft-repeated re-
frain: "Oh, Mama Inez-" which is shouted as a
chorus by the audience. In its proper setting-in
a native village under the whispering palms, with
the eager half-savage faces of the audience re-
vealed by the light of flaring torches, with the
black night lit by giant fireflies and with the bril-
liant stars of the tropics in the indigo sky over-
head-the rumba becomes fascinating in its ex-
pression of primitive nature. One watches it,
tense, with a vague inexpressible thrill. The sub-
conscious, never quite dead savagery in one's
veins responds, and, almost before one is aware
of the fact, one finds oneself joining in that
shouted, long-drawn, chant-like refrain-"Oh-
MamA Inez-1"
But in the city-in the garish, electrically lit
cabarets, in the midst of curious tourists, sight-
seers and half-nude, painted-faced cabaret per-
formers, with evening dress on every side and








L.


-r, ~ ~ a\C'-~t


The "Templete," Havana.

























A vista in Country Club Park.


Il Miramar Park.






THE PLAYGROUND 59
motor horns honking outside the door-the rumba
becomes a cheap, tawdry, vulgar exhibition, staged
wholly for the purpose of shocking-or attempt-
ing to shock-puritanical-minded ruralites from
the States.










CHAPTER V TAKE YOUR CAR TO CUBA
To the great majority of persons, Havana is Cuba
and Cuba is Havana. Comparatively few realize
that Cuba is a big country, a country comprising
about 45,000 square miles of land, an island six
times the size of Jamaica or a trifle larger than
the State of Pennsylvania. Few stop to realize
that from Cape Maysi, its eastern extremity, to
Cape San Antonio, at the western end, Cuba meas-
ures nearly nine hundred miles, and that from the
Atlantic to the Caribbean shores it is from twenty
to over one hundred miles in width. Figures as a
rule convey little meaning to the average person.
Comparisons are far more impressive and con-
vincing. So let us say that, if placed on a map
of the United States, Cuba would reach from New
York City to Indianapolis and would cover a space
the width of New Jersey I Or again, if we should
swing Cuba around so it lay parallel with our At-
lantic coast, it would reach from Florida to New
York. In fact from one end of Cuba to the other
is pretty nearly as far as from New York to
Havana.
Almost as many false ideas exist as to the char-
acter of the island's surface. Even those who
have visited Havana and the vicinity of the capital
60






TAKE YOUR CAR TO CUBA


imagine Cuba as an almost flat, rather level coun-
try whose highest elevations are low rolling hills.
Yet Cuba is in reality a mountainous rather than
a level land, and a large portion of its eastern and
southeastern surface is covered with the towering
ranges of the Sierra Maestra with their highest
peak-Pico Turquino--rising to 8,320 feet above
the sea, thus surpassing the Blue Mountains of
Jamaica by 1,000 feet or Mount Washington by
nearly three thousand feet. Flowing across the
level plains from these mountains are numerous
rivers, many broad and beautiful, and one, the
Canto, being navigable for some distance from the
sea. In many places near the coasts, especially
in the south-central districts, there are extensive
swamps, while in the eastern provinces are im-
mense forests and rich mineral deposits. To be
sure, the country round about Havana is monoto-
nous, flat and broken only by low limestone hills
and small streams; but Havana Province is by no
means typical of the entire island, and the visitor
to Cuba would be just as foolish to judge the en-
tire island by one small section of the republic, or
to form opinions of Cuba as a whole from jaunts
about Havana, as would the visitor to New York
who judged the entire state by the Hackensack
meadows or by a tour through Long Island.
Until recently, however, to travel over any con-
siderable portion of Cuba was tiresome, unpleas-
ant, difficult and costly. The only means of trans-






CUBA OF TODAY


portation was by horseback or railway, and the
Cuban railways are by no means of the best.
Moreover, even then the traveler saw compara-
tively little of the island.
But today, thanks to Cuba's system of wonder-
ful new motor highways, one may tour practically
the entire island by automobile, in comfort and
without any difficulty. Not only that, but one may
take one's own car and drive anywhere and every-
where as readily and freely as if in one's own
state.
Through the activities of the Havana Automo-
bile Club, laws have been passed which facilitate
the entry of foreign-owned cars into Cuba. Not
only do the laws facilitate-they make it as easy
and simple to bring one's car from the States or
elsewhere into Cuba as to take it from one state
to another at home. There is not one cent of ex-
pense, not a tax, bond, surety, dock or landing
charge nor a license fee to be paid. Within half
an hour after a car has been unloaded from the
steamer, the owner is at liberty to drive off with
it wherever he wishes. It is only necessary to an-
swer a few questions put by the customs officers
in charge of motor-car entries-give the descrip-
tion, motor and State's license numbers and other
data-and in a few moments, and without any
delay or red tape, the officials will hand the owner
of the car two documents-one a certificate of
entry, the other a temporary driving and car li-






TAKE YOUR CAR TO CUBA


cense-and you may drive away. For ninety
days the car may be kept and driven in Cuba
without taxation or licenses and, if necessary, an
extension of a second period of ninety days may
be secured.
Neither is there any difficulty nor any great ex-
pense in taking a car to Cuba. If sailing from
New York, it is only necessary to drive the car
to the Ward Line pier, check it as excess baggage,
pay the charges, and the car will accompany the
owner to Havana, where it will be discharged and
on the dock by the time the passengers' baggage
has been passed by the customs.
If preferred, one may drive southward to Miami
or even Key West and there embark one's car on
any of the Havana boats. Moreover, if the mo-
torist plans to visit Europe with his car, he can
embark the machine on a Pacific Steam Naviga-
tion Company's ship at Havana and sail with it
direct to England or the Continent. And by ar-
ranging with the Automobile Association, Foreign
Department, in New York City, all foreign trip-
tiques, carnetes, licenses and customs formalities
will be attended to by the representatives of the
A.A., exactly as if the car were sent from New
York. Thus one may spend the winter months
touring Cuba and then-without any trouble or
inconvenience and at no greater expense than if
sailing with a car from New York-cross the At-
lantic and spend the summer touring Europe or






CUBA OF TODAY


Great Britain, finally returning to New York by
the ordinary route.
But whatever the ultimate destination, Cuba
presents an ideal spot for motoring during the
months when sleet, snow and biting winds
make motoring in the north anything but a
pleasure.
The most timid driver will find little or no diffi-
culty in driving in Cuba, even in Havana's traf-
fic. The rule of the road in Cuba is like our own-
keep to the right and overtake on the left. There
are the same red and green signal lights or stop
and go (sigue and pare) semaphores at corners;
the same plainly marked safety zones, circular
traffic areas, and one-way streets. Moreover, the
traffic police invariably overlook slight violations
of rules on the part of visiting drivers. But park-
ing in Havana is almost as much of a problem as
in New York or London. Parking is not permitted
in the narrower streets and, although there are
allotted parking spaces about the plazas, they usu-
ally are filled with livery cars, jitneys, etc.
Worst of all, there are no hard and fast rules
in regard to parking on those streets where park-
ing is permitted. You may park your car on the
right-hand side of a thoroughfare, in accordance
with the directions of a traffic policeman, and an
hour or two later-when another policeman comes
on duty-you may be notified that your car is on
the wrong side of the thoroughfare or, as likely as






TAKE YOUR CAR TO CUBA


not, you will be informed that no parking is per-
mitted on the street.
And the stranger invariably finds getting out of
Havana into the country an almost insoluble puz-
zle. It is simple enough to drive out the Malecon
to the Vedado, the Country Club or beyond; but
when it comes to attempting to get on to the Cen-
tral Highway or the road leading to Batabino or
elsewhere it is a different matter. There are no
signs indicating the route to be followed, and, un-
less one is thoroughly familiar with the city and
its intricacies, one finds oneself in a labyrinth of
streets, with all sense of direction lost, and hope-
lessly confused. This is well illustrated by the
experience of one American who, at seven o'clock
one morning, started with his wife to drive to
Matanzas. At ten, when they had passed the gen-
eral market six times, his wife said: "John, let's
go to the Playa!" That was the nearest they ever
got to Matanzas by their car. If the Havana Au-
tomobile Club or the city's authorities really wish
to induce Americans to bring their cars to Cuba,
and to make use of Cuba's good roads and see the
country, they must arrange to post the routes to
be followed in driving to the various outlying
towns. It would be a very simple and a far from
expensive undertaking to place conspicuous signs,
bearing the names of the more important towns,
and with arrows indicating the direction, at the
various street corners along the route, or better,






66 CUBA OF TODAY
to have large arrows and the names of the towns
painted on the pavements.
Even as it is, there are thousands of American
cars in Cuba each winter, and number plates of
New York, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, Ohio, Cali-
fornia and many other states are almost as often
seen as the Cuban numbers.
All about Havana there are splendid highways
leading into the outlying country, and in an hour
or two one may speed far into the interior of west-
ern Cuba or may cross the island to the Caribbean
shore.
The Central Highway, now almost completed,
will link Havana with Santiago de Cuba, thus af-
fording a tour of 705 miles through the very heart
of the island and passing through the magnificent
Sierra Maestra mountains. From this main ar-
tery innumerable lateral roads connect all the
principal towns of the island, while westward from
Havana the main highway will extend to Guane,
159 miles from the capital, passing through Ar-
royo Arenas, Punta Brava, Hoyo Colorado, Cai-
mito, Guanajay, Artemisa, Las Langas and Can-
delaria, the end of the completed road at the pres-
ent time. But work is being pushed rapidly and in
a few months' time-before this book is published
-the road will be completed onward through San
Cristobal, Santa Cruz de los Pinos, Consolacion del
Sur and Pinar del Rio to Guane. This takes the
motorist through one of the most interesting sec-






TAKE YOUR CAR TO CUBA


tions of Cuba, the district made famous to all the
world by the superior grade of tobacco grown in
the rich soil and on the queer isolated limestone
hills-the tobacco justly famed and known as the
Vuelta Abajo.
To the traveler accustomed to the luxuriant,
riotous vegetation of the tropical jungles of South
and Central America, to the majestic Andes or
the green-clad, sky-piercing mountains of the
Lesser Antilles, or for that matter to our own un-
rivaled country, the scenery of Cuba will be dis-
appointing. The country is unlike anything to be
seen elsewhere, and it holds much of interest from
economic, agricultural and sociological stand-
points-and of course it is Cuba. But it is decid-
edly lacking in variety, grandeur or picturesque
features. This is particularly true of western
Cuba. Traveling over this westward road through
Pinar del Rio, one is impressed with the fertility
of the land, the cultivation, the pineapple, orange,
cane and tobacco fields, and the utility of the new
highway, rather than with the natural beauties of
the country. Not until Pinar del Rio is passed
are there anything in the way of hills that even
approach mountains-the highest point here being
a scant 1,000 feet above the sea. But from this
highest point on the road, there is a really splen-
did view-a panorama of the broad undulating
plains to the south, the sparkling blue Caribbean
in the far distance, and the quaint old city of Pinar






CUBA OF TODAY


del Rio in the foreground, while to the northwest
the hazy Organo Mountains loom above the palm-
dotted, cultivated lands. All through this section
are little towns and villages hidden away in basin-
like valleys, surrounded by limestone walls draped
with verdure. Upon the little plains are groves of
the omnipresent palms, small patches of gardens,
and jutting like prehistoric monolithic monuments
above the level surface are the strange mogotes
of limestone. Everywhere, in every available spot
-and in many a spot that appears far from avail-
able-are patches of the famous vuelta abajo to-
bacco. In the vales, on the hillsides, on the moun-
tain tops and even on the sheer sides of the
mogotes and the precipitous, rugged faces of the
cliffs-where the owners are forced to ascend and
descend by means of ropes-are the valuable
plants. Once having seen the difficulties to be
overcome in its cultivation and the inaccessible
spots where it is grown, one no longer marvels
at the high cost of this finest of the world's fine
tobaccos.
If one does not care to go so far afield as Pinar
del Rio, there is a most delightful drive to Guana-
jay and thence to Mariel. Mariel, the seat of the
Cuban Naval Academy, is a tiny, sleepy, uninter-
esting village, but it borders on a lovely land-
locked bay which, during the Spanish War, was a
favorite port for the filibusters who smuggled
arms and ammunition into Cuba to aid the pa-





TAKE YOUR CAR TO CUBA


triot's cause. Also one may dine here most re-
gally and sumptuously on delicious fish and lob-
sters fresh from the waters of the bay. Today
Mariel is mainly of importance because of the big
cement plant across the bay and the immense as-
phalt deposits in the vicinity.
Another and even shorter run is to Hoyo Colo-
rado and thence, turning to the right under an
arching avenue of poinciana trees, to Baracoa
beach. All along this shady, delightful roadway
are evidences of the old days when planters lived
like kings and waxed millionaires by slave labor.
Here are half-ruined, centuries-old mansions, once
veritable palaces; here are miles of beautifully
built stone walls that-if erected by paid labor-
would cost more than the lands they enclose are
worth. Here are the remains of the old slave bar-
racks, and often one passes the immense bells sus-
pended to beams between trees that once sum-
moned the toiling blacks from fields at close of
day or sent them forth to their labors in the cool
of early dawn. Of all Cuba's beaches, that of
Baracoa is perhaps the best; and in the summer
months it is a busy, densely populated spot, re-
minding one of some of our own water-front re-
sorts, with its hundreds of flimsy cottages and bun-
galows on the beach. Like Mariel, Baracoa was a
famous spot for smugglers in days long past, and
in still earlier days it was a by no means unimpor-
tant port and was attacked more than once by the




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