I´ve been in Havana  now for 10 days. I´ve made at least one visit to Cuba every year over the past 16 years, but this is my first total immersion in the capital city in three years. My feet are killing me! In fact, I had to take today off (my first rest day) as I´ve walked blisters onto my feet researching the new edition of Moon Cuba.
It´s remarkable how little Havana has changed in three years. The evolution of new tourist product has slowed considerably, as has the restoration of Habana Vieja  (Old Havana). Only two new hotels have opened in the past three years. But at least two others are in the works. Stay tuned for additional posts on these. Cuba needs to pick up the pace considerably in the event that U.S. restrictions to travel to Cuba are lifted, not least because most of the several hundred houses that are licensed to operate as room rentals are also full.
The transport system, however, has improved considerably. Tourists can now hop aboard the Havanaturbus (see my earlier blog post ) for an open-air sightseeing tour of Havana. And the crude makeshift camellos (camels), or jerry-rigged truck-pulled buses, that were both a joke and a blight have been replaced by an efficient network of articulated modern buses from China.
A few new restaurants have opened, but thus far my dining experience has been as lackluster as ever. Gourmands will be greatly dismayed. And vegetarians will be disappointed to learn that Havana´s chain of four veggie restaurants has been closed. So too, two of the finest paladares (private restaurants), leaving barely a handle of such dining options to choose from.
Surprisingly, too, no work is being done on expanding the two existing cruise ship berths. Cuba will be caught flat-footed if cruise companies are again permitted to visit Cuba. That said, I suspect that Cuba will choose to regulate the inflow of U.S. visitors by implementing a visa system and restricted landing and berthing rights... at least until it gets its prime-time infrastructure in place.
Fortunately, the electricity blackouts that were a nightly event are now relegated to recent memory. Otherwise, life for Cubans hasn´t changed one iota. A first-timers´ walk through Havana remains an exhilarating and disheartening slap in the face.
The good news is that the city has lost none of its surreal edge, nor its phenomenal albeit disheveled beauty.