New York’s is famous, London’s too, Manchester’s quite extensive, and even Newcastle has a Chinese quarter, complete with heavily decorated oriental gates, so why shouldn’t Havana have a Chinatown, especially given the city’s long trading history. Where’s there’s money changing hands you will often find an immigrant population.
And so in the Centro Habana district you will find Barrio Chino, the area settled by Chinese over 150 years ago. The paifang gate may not be as ornate as some of the others around the world and within China, but there’s no doubting its significance when you find it.
The streets beyond provide plenty more evidence of Chinese influence, though mainly in the restaurant trade, another indication of a thriving immigrant scene. If you’re going to emigrate then home style food can assuage your feelings of homesickness.
There is one clear sign of a colony missing however. Although they have been here for many decades, you will find relatively few pure Chinese in Havana. They have been successfully assimilated into the wider population to the extent that it is rare to see anyone with obviously Chinese features.
I can’t help feeling that there is a sense of balance in this fact. After all it is the same process that is being used in Tibet. Yin Yang.