by
on June 9, 2019 on 6/9/19 from ,

How to Survive the Heat in Havana

I have been to Florida before in the late spring, so I understood that the humidity and heat would be different than what I am used to in the Northeast United States. But nothing really prepares you for how hot it gets in Havana.

Most tourists avoid coming to the island during this time because of the intense summer and prefer to visit in the fall. This has its perks because many of the popular tourist destinations are emptier, such as restaurants and museums. But the heat also can limit your daytime activities due to the very high temperatures. During the peak hours of 12-4pm on most days, it is simpler to stay inside where there is AC to avoid a heat stroke (which can happen easily if you are not careful). No one wants to say they spent their summer indoors, so here is what I have been doing for the past week to stay cool:

  1. Drinking a lot of water inside and outside: The humidity is essentially inescapable unless you have the doors and windows closed and the AC on. Not every indoor place will have an AC, so the power of a fan will do wonders. If you are not starting and ending your day with drinking water, you will feel incredibly tired, which can also ruin your mood. I have been making a habit of taking a water bottle everywhere I go in order to stay hydrated, which has become a difficult task because I walk A LOT around Havana. Luckily, the city has access to drinkable water (mostly sold in bottles) so I have not had to worry about drinking anything contaminated.
  2. Taking naps: For the past week, I have had Spanish class from 9-12:30pm at the University of Havana. Some of the classrooms have AC and fan, while some do not. The temperature difference between the hallways and the classrooms can be stark, so I am usually at a moderate internal temperature, or very hot. The walk to and from school from the residence I’m staying at in Vedado is about 20-25 minutes long, which can sometimes feel like an eternity. After having lunch with friends, I typically get to the residence around 1:30-2pm. This is when I relax in my bed and do nothing but check my phone for missed messages or emails, as well as listen to the music I downloaded on my phone from Spotify. Around 3-3:30pm, I take a nap to rest from the walking and heat that I endured earlier in the day. They have really become an important part of my weekday routine.
  3. Exploring the city in the evening: At my residence, we have dinner at 6pm. At first, this seemed very early because in the States, I typically have dinner around 8pm (and sometimes later depending on night classes or night shifts at work). But in Cuba, this had mad a lot of sense because it allows my friends and I time to explore Vedado at night, eating ice cream by El Malecon while the sun sets or searching for new restaurants and bars to visit. This way, we can enjoy some of what the city has to offer without becoming a pool of sweat.

Of course, I cannot do all of my exploring at night because many things close around 4pm so there are days when I deal with the heat, which makes me appreciate the indoors even more.

 

Picture of the sunset from a máquina (Cuban term for “taxi”)