The Cayo Hueso neighbourhood, near the University of Havana, has its share of crumbling infrastructure, despite the on-again-off-again restoration projects of the past decade. Yet there’s one part of Cayo Hueso where urban decay has been vanquished, where the dazzling has replaced the dismal, where a pyrotechnic explosion of poetry and music and painting broadcasts Havana’s vibrancy and invites the world in for a closer look. Callejón de Hamel (Hamel’s Alley) is many things to many people. It is a testament to a community’s creativity, because the profusion of sculpture and murals here are the work of people who live in the alley and outlying neighborhood. It is a celebration of Afro-Cuban culture. It is a Santeria shrine. It is a wild rumba street party every Sunday afternoon. And it is the place that Salvador González Escalona, the artist who started the whole thing back in 1990, calls home. As the story goes, Salvador (as almost everyone calls him) came to the alley to paint a mural on a friend’s house and wound up painting everything else within reach. The neighbours, some alarmed to see this metamorphosis taking place on their street, got involved. “The reaction was amazing,” Salvador recalls. “People came up to me and said, ‘Maestro, I have a little bit of red paint,’ or yellow, or a little printing dye. I wound up painting with whatever materials turned up.” Discover the vibrancy of contemporary Cuban culture @ www.havana-cultura.com Havana Cultura is an initiative of Cuban rum maker Havana Club International S.A.