Long overdue, Chinatown did arrive. The first signs of it are always those crazy characters. I am actually really fond of them and it was delightful to see them. They were in traditional script and read from right to left as is to be expected. Also the Pinyin or Latin poeticized spelling of them were all in Cantonese, the southern language popular in Guangdong, Hong Kong, etc. The south Chinese have become more accustomed to immigration, namely the Hakka people. The buildings were no different from the other baroque colonial Spanish styled colorful buildings that line all the other streets in Havana, just that they had characters, from the Li family society, or the Huang family society. Each seemed to be a society of some sort clustered by family names. Curiously there were no thin framed, black eyed, yellow skinned Chinese. I asked an old man stoking his cigar if there are any Chinese families left and he said that the last old fellow perished some time back and now there are no more. My cigar has smoldered out in its ashtray by the way. I think it will lay/lie dormant. The rain had petered out and I was able to capture some of the interesting features of the Chinese characters being in a setting of western buildings and cars from the 1950's. It reminded me very much of the old areas of western concessions in the Chinese cities of Harbin, Shanghai, Dalian, etc. It was like being transported back to the colonial eras of China, well maybe only a little. I hadn't had lunch and there wasn’t anyone to speak Chinese too. That was a bummer. Sure my Spanish is improving and it is nice to use a language that is not English, but Chinese is just much more comfortable that Spanish. So what does any good cultured Chinese individual do when there isn’t much left to do... EAT! The general Chinses population will go on and on about how great Chinese food is. The monotonous same shit about dumplings, or noodles, or dishes depending on which is the particular favorite of that person is a never ending topic. But in all fairness, Chinese cuisine is fantastic. Diversified, colorful, sweet, savory, and steeped in recipes that have been refined, forgotten, then rediscovered along with newly created dishes and styles from thousands of counties across China make Chinese food something any fat guy will love. Without hesitation, it is delicious. With that said, I am in Cuba. There was clearly a restaurant row just off a walking street. I knew they would be a little more upscale and what I had planned was to find an old school Chinese cook who prepared food for the community. The problem is that there is no more Chinese community. And thus no little food hole in the walls. And just as I poked my head down the street a bright red Qipao (Qing dynasty style dress) popped out from behind a clump of bamboo. She asked if I wanted some Chinese food and I said well yes I do. A young man showed me to a seat which he thoughtfully switched out the wet one for a dry one while also shushing away a scavenger cat. There were Chinese red lanterns, nicely written Chinese characters with familiar foods, and the menu was in Chinese. That was a good sign... Spanish too, but Chinese is necessary to avoid translations like "Chinese brown sauce." Don’t know what that is. I asked if the Chinese chef, whose picture was proudly displayed on the cover of the menu was there. No. But the young waiter did know a little Chinese. The name of the restaurant was Tian Gong!
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