3:00 pm

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La Habana is a dirty, smelly, crumbling city where men leer at me and the hot air that tunnels through the streets cannot really be called a breeze since it is mostly exhaust and does nothing to cool my burning skin.

Men push old grocery carts hung with onions and garlic, and women stand at rod-iron gates, peering onto the streets. Dogs search for scraps, and laundry hangs from second-story balconies, dripping onto the broken sidewalk below. Friends sit in doorways smoking cigarettes, and horse-drawn carts clatter through the streets, pulled by dirty animals whose ribs show far more than they should. Bicycle taxis offer me a ride as I walk — no gracias, no gracias.

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