8:00 pm

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Thrust back into the exhaust-filled streets, I spend my final day in Havana trying to avoid too much scrutiny and finding as much fresh air to breathe as possible.

In case you have not noticed, Havana is not my favorite city.

It redeems itself somewhat in Topoly, though, an Iranian-Cuban restaurant in Vedado that serves me the best food I've eaten since I've been in the country. It's so good I eat there twice in my final 36 hours. The waitresses smile when they recognize me, and I sit at the same table on the wrap-around porch outside of this house-turned-restaurant. It overlooks a lovely green garden with a small fountain and three parakeets in cages.

Perhaps I remember this place so fondly partly because it is a quiet oasis in this busy city that constantly wants to talk to me about what I am wearing, where I am going, and what I am doing.

Viñales, though. Take me back to the limestone tufas and the pink sunrises over red-tiled roofs. I will gladly go.

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