Well, we had our two weeks in Cuba and holy shit it was fantastic. What a place! The music, the history, the buildings, the old cars, the cigars, the rum, the music (deserving at least another mention), the heat, the food . . . unbelieveable.
Cuban music is so much a part of the culture and everyday life, and fucking hell its all the better for it. I have to say, it really made me think about what playing music means to me. The auld lads playing savage tunes in every bar, restaurant, cafe, street corner (see dancing lady below) - its so cool, and the some amazing musicians. One Sunday afternoon in the Casa Del A Trova (like an arts house/music venue) there was a 'troubadour' lady singing with probably the best guitarist I've ever seen playing live. I was kind of caught off guard by them, they were outstanding and one or two songs were really moving - powerful I suppose. Like Hannah said, someone like Jools Holland would just pick up this lady and have her on his show, and that would be that. This is all on a quiet Sunday afternoon in Santiago de Cuba.My rucksack was bursting at the seams with bottles of rum and a couple of boxes of cigars on the flight home. I seemed to get through the mojitos at a much faster pace than the girls, dunno why probably just cos they're tasty out! Cohibas are definitely the best cigars, but you can get some equally fine brands for a bit cheaper, and if you're lucky can score a nice handy box for next to nothing. I think the trip may have started a lifelong obsession! Great - the last thing I need is another vice!
I suppose I'd have to mention the whole ideology of the Revolution and Cuban politics. I didn't realise how much of it was down old Che; the fact that he was Minister for Industry and president of the first Cuban National Bank, and so on. The ideology of the Revolution and in particular Che's "New Man" is particularly interesting, maybe even more so for "New Ireland" who in my opinion could do with a little less concern with material things. At the risk of sounding preachy or indeed hypocritical, I think happiness is more to do with health and culture than obnoxious 99 inch TV screens and urban SUVs
The suspicious sloganeering and some reports of general unhappiness with the government- mainly still stemming from the difficult 'Special Period' in the 90's after USSR's collapse - doesn't really detract from fact that the Revolution as an idea is extremely interesting. Communist Cuba as an idea is alive and well. If Westernisation and Capitalism does eventually find Cuba, and unfortunately its probably only a matter of time, well still, it'll be a sad day.
I can't wait to go back - the idea to just hop on a plane and half a day later be sitting in 30 degree heats drinking mojitos smoking cigars and listening to great music. Fuck yeah.