All over Havana, buildings are being restored. Some of them only need some patchy repairs, while others require more extensive renovations. All of this must be extremely costly. Ross and I chatted with one of our neighbours, Santiago, who works in the construction business. He told us that he has all the work he could ever want….but the pay is so low that he has to moonlight in the tourist industry. (Sidebar: his “moonlighting” in the tourism industry is as a tout for a local paladar – he brings tourists to the restaurant, and gets a small cut of whatever they order. For this, he likely earns 1 or 2 convertible pesos (CUCs) per tourists that visit the paladar.)
I was particularly taken with the construction projects that seem to be stalled.
The scaffolding is there, and some repairs have been undertaken, but the growth of the plants around (and on) the building indicate that activity has stopped….whether because of lack of money or materials or for some other reason….
This construction site was close to our casa particular (Casa de Pepe y Raphaela, Calle Sol y San Ignacio, San Ignacio 454, $35 CUC per night). On the weekend, it was taken over by local kids and converted into a make-shift football pitch.
Overall, Havana’s under a lot of construction – even more than last time we visited. It does seem to take a long time, either because of the issues mentioned above, or perhaps because the jobs are very involved and detailed, and therefore time consuming.