Readers of some of my posts about Venice may recall that one of the things I love about Italy is the crumbly, flaky, rusty, textural quality of the buildings there, buildings that have that weathered exteriors but, being Italian, often very stylish interiors.
Havana presented me with a different sort of decay. Weathered? Almost certainly, since apart from the baking heat this part of the world is a regular host to hurricanes and tornadoes.
The humidity brings another adjective to the crumbly, flaky, rusty list too. Mouldy. Many buildings bore patches of blackened render as evidence of this, but every banknote seemed to have a musty smell too.
So decay was everywhere, but because of the poverty in Cuba this was no superficial affectation. Peer through the windows of many buildings and there was no stylish interior. Vacuous concrete spaces, darkened by a lack of electric lighting and furnished with plastic garden chairs were a common sight.
There is evidence of attempts to restore some of the grander buildings, but even this seems to lack heart. A short walk from the huge restoration projects of the Capitol and National Theatre is a roofless shell held up by an exoskeleton of scaffolding. Scaffolding that has itself been cocooned in a wall of creeper resulting from a long period of inactivity.