Guanabacoa, three kilometers east of Regla, was founded in 1607 and developed as the major trading center for slaves. Nn Afro-Cuban culture evolved here, expressed in a strong musical heritage. The Casa de la Trova (Martí #111, e/ San Antonio y Versalles, tel. 07/797-7687, Tues.–Sun. 9 a.m.–11 p.m., entrance one peso) hosts performances of Afro-Cuban music and dance, as does Restaurante Las Orishas (Calle Martí, e/ Lamas y Cruz Verde, tel. 07/794-7878, daily noon–midnight).
Guanabacoa is also Cuba’s most important center of santería. So strong is the association that all over Cuba, folks facing extreme adversity will say “I’m going to have to go to Guanabacoa,” implying that only the power of a babalawo can fix the problem.
Guanabacoa also boasts several religious sites (most are tumbledown and await restoration), including two Jewish cemeteries on the east side of town. Combined with a visit to Regla, it makes an intriguing excursion from downtown Havana.
Getting to Guanabacoa
To get to Guanabacoa, bus #29 runs to Guanabacoa from the Regla dock. Bus #3 departs for Guanabacoa from Máximo Gómez and Aponte, on the south side of Parque de la Fraternidad, in Habana Vieja; and bus #95 from the corner of Corrales and Zulueta. From Vedado, you can take bus #195; from the Plaza de la Revolución, take bus #5.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Cuba, 5th Edition