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08TH April 2020

Havana Culture - Timeless - Timely - Uncategorized

Shelter(ed) Day 7- Back to Havana


Chapter 7 – The Bacardi Building

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Illustration- Nina & Pablo and car park outside the Bacardi Building- Ermitas Blanco

Nina was thoroughly enjoying the ride into Old Havana — in so many ways. 

In just 24 hours – or 60 years depending on how you look at it- Nina had fully accomplished the adventure she and Finn had set out to discover (and then some). She’d spent the night with someone who, as she’d tell her friends in New York, “gets me.” Pablo’s suave demeanor, “fix-it” resourcefulness and knowledge of architecture were such a turn-on. He danced like a gentleman,kissed like a gentleman … he was so much more than the “friend with benefits” arrangement she’d been settling for with Finn.  

And Finn, being a gentleman as well, had let her progress with that as the night developed. His morning note, left on her pillow, was sweet, sincere and supportive. He’d never have a mustache like Pablo, that’s for sure.

She moved closer to Pablo as he drove with the top down through Vedado, along the Malecon and past the Nacionale, never noticing the man with binoculars trained on them from the gardens above.  Then, El Morro was there, guarding the Caribbean’s deepest port, pink in the sunset and stout against the blue water. 

The note from Finn also shared his theory of what had happened: they were most definitely in [1957]. And the Latino, Jorge, may have travelled in time before them. Jorge may be the one with the secret — whatever that was —  to getting back to the present

But who the f*ck would want to leave Havana in the 50’s?

As Pablo rounded the corner onto the Prado, he began his architectural tour guiding voice, which made Nina both hot —  and a bit sleepy…

“Most people don’t know the Bacardi company was founded in Santiago de Cuba, way back in 1862, back when Cuba was largest producer of sugar in the Caribbean. The early 20th century were boom times for Cuba and Bacardi;  World War I made the sugar trade particularly lucrative and Prohibition in the U.S. making Havana a popular party destination for American tourists. These flush times led to a good deal of new construction in Havana, much of it in the Art Deco style that was wildly popular at the time. The Bacardi Building is regarded as a signature masterpiece of Havana Deco…”

By the time he swung into a spot at Avenida de Bélgica No. 261, Nina had dozed off. So he sat, her head on his lap, contemplating what had happened in the past 24 hours. He was near his house, but knew there was no chance his Cuban wife was anywhere to be seen(it was 1957 and she wasn’t even born yet.) If he saw his mother-in-law, that puta, she wouldn’t recognize him either. He briefly considered how much fun it would be to mess with her about her future son-in-law, but then let it go.

He looked up at one of his favorite buildings in the world, from either present day or [1957]: a facade of red granite, golden glazed tiles, brass fixtures, and colorful terracotta reliefs of nude nymphs designed by Maxfield Parrish, the building terminated in a ziggurat-inspired tower topped with a bronze rendition of the Bacardi “bat” logo. The bat motif could also be found throughout the building’s richly-decorated interior, along with familiar Art Deco details such as geometric patterns,rich wood paneling, and mural paintings.

Nina awoke, and they went inside for a tour that the Bacardis were only too happy to give any American who appreciated the care that had gone into building their monument to sugar cane, molasses and its byproduct- rum. Among the twelve people on the tour with them, they hardly noticed the squat Italian with the pinky ring who seemed bored to death — but perked up whenever Pablo spoke to Nina. 

Vin, of course, didn’t notice the man from BRAC, tailing them all.

~~

Prefer the whole Book One? Here is the Table of Contents, with links.

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