It’s been over a week since the storm hit, and as with most natural disasters, recovery is happening, but in fits and starts.
We wound up being without electricity from Saturday afternoon to Monday early evening. At that point, our fridge was a hot box and we were running out of fresh food. On Sunday afternoon, we lost water. That came back with the electricity Monday night, once the pump had power again.
On Sunday and Monday, I went to Hotel Habana Libre, about a 5-minute walk away to see if they had power, so I could charge my phones and laptop. They did! And a hundred other people had the same idea. It was challenging finding a spot to plug in and I noticed that people had brought in power strips to make the most out of each outlet. I tried that approach the next day – it was much less stressful and it felt good to help other people out.
The cool thing about Habana Libre was despite feeling dirty and sweaty and gross and having no idea when life would return to normal, everyone else was in the same boat, and I had some really good conversations – with three Venezuelan doctors who were returning to their country after two years working here, with a Cuban ex-model who lives in Houston now, and with a Peruvian-Italian artist/singer/songwriter who has been traveling to Havana to record his second album. This helped pass the time and I got to practice my Spanish a lot!
Every day that I go out, more things seem to be returning to normal. The hotels aren’t packed with desperate tourists and Cubans charging their cellphones. Stores and cafes are re-opening. More and more people are getting their power restored (although some friends have been without it for close to a week now). Fallen trees are slowly but surely getting sawed and collected.
As far as dancing goes? That’s the big question right now. I was heartbroken to hear that Mil Ocho, one of the most iconic salsa dancing venues in Havana, was destroyed. It was located right at the end of the Malecón in Vedado. I plan to visit to see the damage for myself, but haven’t been able to get there yet.
I’m hopeful that this coming week, the rest of the popular spots will have power and the resources necessary to re-open. Until then, I’m just happy and grateful that I’m safe, and have working utilities and food.