Just over the road from the Habana Libre hotel is a square of parkland with something mysterious at its heart.

Painted bright blue, it’s concrete form is shrouded in lush greenery so that you rarely catch sight of more than a hint at its shape.  It has mysterious presence akin to the crash site of a spacecraft in some alien jungle, or the themed swimming pools of a 1970’s leisure centre.

The structure, built in the mid 60’s, is the main branch of Cuba’s national ice cream manufacturer Coppelia, a hugely popular institution whose customers queue for up to an hour to make their purchases and where security guards patrol the perimeter to prevent breaches.  Apparently there is an entrance specifically for tourists, though my personal sense of justice wouldn’t allow me to take this iniquitous option so I left Havana without a taste.

Perhaps I might have been more determined if the menu board displayed at the head of the queue had displayed more than just a single word.  Vanilla.



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