Malecón, Havana, Cuba, 2017.  A boy who lives in a rotting building along the Malécon—the most derelict of those visited—gives a paid tour, delicately holding my fingers when we climb or descend marble staircases crumbling into nothing but precarious toeholds.  He wants money for a mobile phone to do Facebook, and so he waits patiently as rooms, ceilings, and corridors are framed and catalogued.  

Because of the Cadillacs, Havana has the image of being caught in time.  There is nothing but timeliness in Havana, however.  Indeed, time presses.  Time presses through the rot of buildings that the government no longer cares for, or for the people within.  It presses through the buy-up of such buildings by individual and company investors, some to renovate as small-business hostelries, others to demolish for parking structures.  Cuba, despite the current US administration's rejection of the rapprochement that took place under President Obama, is wide open to tourism and foreign investment.  This does not necessarily translate to opportunities for the many living in Havana.  In fact, it rarely does.  Yet this is a city of laughter, dance, and living rooms spilling out on the cleanest and most proper of streets in Northern America.  It is a city of camaraderie, Santeria, education, and artistry.   It is a city trapped by history and unleashed by potential, or by greed.  The only thing certain: It is a place to know.  As an American, I hope to know it again, how it is now.
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