We stayed with Ileana and Marta in Vedado. We chose their home hoping they would be a lesbian couple, but Marta turned out to be Ileana’s 97-year-old mother, which was also cute. They spent their evenings in matching bathrobes, watching TV from rocking chairs.
Their apartment is on the third floor of an elegant Art Deco building situated on the corner or 21 and Avenida de los Presidentes – a prime locale, we soon discovered. Our room was airy and impeccably maintained, with shuttered windows leading onto a flowering terrasse, wood furniture, vintage lamps, Cuban art prints and tasteful sheets (a true rarity in Havana). Although it’s right off the main living room, we had ample privacy and could come and go as we pleased. There is no lock on the door, but we felt safe; Ileana and Marta instantly putting us at ease.
Ileana’s breakfasts of chopped up fruta bomba, jugo natural, café, tostados and huevos were delectable – with the added touch of homemade pineapple-carrot-ginger jam. We set the time for desayuno, and Ileana was only slightly annoyed at our lack of punctuality. Plus, she refilled our water bottles, which turned out to be quite convenient.
We are still unsure if Ileana and Marta know we are lesbians (despite it being stated in our intro message) as they never acknowledged us as a couple. However, despite allusions to “decency,” they were not in any way homophobic, and rather welcoming.
We chatted extensively with Ileana about Playa 16 in Miramar and Cuba’s National Ballet. She’s an adorable granny, and while it was endearing to watch her struggle on her phone in magnified-font, she wasn’t exactly up to the pulse of the city. Luckily, we crossed paths with her daughter, Christina, who pointed us to local events. FYI: given Ileana’s dismay at the pope’s death, we gleaned that she may be religious. She made some questionable comments about race and body size. That being said, we had a phenomenal time and would stay there again in a heartbeat!
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