Is it the set from Jackie
Chan’s “Shanghai Noon” or is it Jet Li’s “Once Upon A Time In
America”. No… it’s just the Bar Pekin on Zanja, a wide dusty
boulevard along the edge of Barrio Chino. Everything is aged but
still has this tacky plastic feel about it.
It’s almost impossible to enter unobtrusively, so I might as
well pretend I’m Jet Li as I kick the swinging doors open to
make way for my continuous Steadicam move through the entrance
marked with tacky Chinaman characters “Bar Pekin”.
A shaft of
bright white light blinds the patrons as my entrance engulfs the
bar with a gust of heat and dust from the blazing sun outside.
I’m disappointed by the absence of sexy saloon girls but the
crowd is friendly and there’re no challenges to any gunfights so
I rest my PD150 and relax for a long overdue mojito.
We meet Maritza Cok, a half-Chinese bartender who makes a mean
mojito and Abel Lam, another mixed-race Chinese cook who doesn’t
make so good fried rice. We also meet Frank and Jorge, two
mariachis who came in to do their renditions of Guantanamera and
There’s music everywhere in Havana. Further down Calle Obispo,
we bump into a band of street performers on high stilts making
carnival music but with Chinese horns and drums. I get busted
the minute I started tracking this girl with skin-tight hot
pants that barely covers her gyrating hips. I hate paying to
miss the shot. So I brushed off the annoying money collector to
our “fixer” guy.