"There’s a Havana I adore / a Havana of mine / a Havana of passion and melancholy /of warmth, cigars, rum and poetry,/ and a mischievous smile every now and then"

Raúl Paz, song Havanization

And it’s not enough to hop on the tour bus to ride up and down the seawall, just to see all that by yourself. You have to get off on the best corner, as if it were a Russian roulette, and know how to knock on a door —there are many out there and many are ajar. You’ve got to be bold because, as it has happened to many, Havana can change your life.
Banners everywhere trumpet your arrival in the Capital of the Arts: the 16th International Theater Festival of Havana has just come to a close, with sold-out shows and plurality galore on the contemporary stage. Now, the World Meetings of Salsa Dancers and Dance Academies is under way, and chance are there’ll be a new Guinness World Record of casino circles, currently in the hands of Greece for seven minutes. And hundreds of people will go to dance to /a overcrowded seawall and music in the feet/.
The best thing is the year is not ending yet. The invasion of collectors during the Havana Biennial seemed to be good enough, but the breaking news now is that Mick Jagger has been in the island’s capital and the Rolling Stones want a concert here. But before that, the billboards have blown up with the Human Voices Festival summoned by Cuban guitarist and composer Leo Brouwer. And what about the Popular Voices Festival, an initiative spearheaded by crooner Argelia Fragoso?; or the announcement that Puerto Rico’s Olga Tañon will stage two concerts? What people call an atmosphere carnival is going on right now: many concerts, countertenor contests and a capella voices, jam-packed exhibits of fine arts and photography, and eye-popping movie sessions.
This weekend, the National Theater is sold out for the presentation of the Cuban National Ballet Company that has just returned from Madrid where it brought down the house. And just a few blocks from there, in the Vedado area, conspiracy buffs are huddled at the Casa del Festival to unleash another avalanche: the New Latin America Cinema. There’s no way out of this fever. Thousands of people will storm the movie box offices and there will be long line to watch the latest films produced in Latin America.
And more breaking news are coming in: Iberia has resumed its flights to Havana; Air France announces more flights for the new year; charter flights are arriving from fourteen U.S. airports, and cruise liners are sailing into the bay.