Now 236 Street in the Abel Santamaría is known throughout Havana as “The Street of the Swimming pools “.
The Abel Santamaria neighborhood in Fontanar, Boyeros municipality, was once a residential neighborhood. In the 50s dozens of elegant houses with large gardens and swimming pools were built there.
Now is a half decadent barrio with potholed streets. While the old rich of the area were never into renting out, the new owners of these beautiful homes are practically living in this business. Out of the business of helping people in a city where there are few affordable places to have fun especially in July and August.
A team of A Fondo toured several of the more than 15 rental pools in this street, even as being located in the capital town peripherals, remains a much more affordable option than the cheapest pool of any hotel.
15 CUC per person is the cheapest rate to spend the day in the pools of some hotels like the Habana Libre, the Presidente and Riviera.
In others such as Panorama hotel, the price is 20 CUC per person and at the Melias Cohiba and Habana those that are not guests or members of the gym, which cost 60 CUC per month are not even allowed to enter the pool.
The first thing we learned when we got to the 236 street was that, even for bathing in private pools, is hard in Havana:
“Many times it is a hassle to fill them up,” a neighbor told us. “They send us water whenever they please. A little while in the morning in one of the ways of the street, and a little while in the afternoon in the other. When they take it out they don’t put it back again till midnight. “
This neighbor also said the best on the block were “the Pool of Carlos” and Villa Tadeo.
In Villa Tadeo the price to be from 10 am to 6 pm is 35 CUC per 15 people. After 15 people and up to 60, they charge 3 CUC a piece.
They sell ice and coal, and the patio is equipped with an oven, a grill and a sink with a working table for customers who wish to cook.
Although at Villa Tadeo they don’t offer food, owner rushes to give the phone number of Luis, a man who is a neighbor of the block and is dedicated specifically to take up the pools different food modules that he sells to customers for lunch and dinner.
“Every day we cook for over 200 people. Offers are pork steak with rice, salad and root vegetables, for 50 pesos ($ 2); chicken or pork chop with the same side dishes for 55 pesos; legs and also sell 23 pounds of pork, roast in casserole with salad and root vegetables for more than 20 people, for 80 CUC .
In addition they sell natural fruit juices and trays with chicharrones (deep fried pig skins) tamales in pan, and potato chips, in local currency.
The business of Luis, in a block in which no single state establishment where even water is sold, complements the business of rental pool people perfectly.
In “the Pool of Carlos”, meanwhile, there have capacity up to an average of 15 to 60 people. The cover is 5 cuc each, and includes a lunch of steak grilled pork with rice, salad and root vegetables.
The owner tells us; above all, he is concerned with the rising prices of licenses to rent legally.
“Last year we paid 900 pesos for the license. This year it rose to more than 1,500. Almost twice. On top of that, we have to pay 10% tax on total revenue. “
“We want to do everything legal. Although you know how it is: the unlicensed bribe inspectors, “he adds as he shows me his license in domestic currency, which is already losing its reddish color, stuck to the glass in the front porch.
Are you booked too often?
“Imagine, son, in the summer the boys just do not have anywhere to go,” he replies. “But you see: Cuba always has a good bit.”