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Eroica Cuba

Old 02-09-24, 04:35 PM
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Thank you for acknowledging the jazz scene. I went to my fav lil boite near hotel Havana (formerly the Hilton, where they shot the Hilton Manager in the back as he tried to escape the revolution ((balance in reporting)))

these guys. Best in the world!!

worked with my buddy Branford Marsalis.

in fact, when hired by Branford to manage his cellar, teach wine classes, etc… I mentioned my Cuban friends by name and he hired me on the spot.

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Old 02-09-24, 04:43 PM
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Back to Havana: riding into town I saw this sign:


is it a school?

I was told it’s a school

Last edited by Robvolz; 02-09-24 at 04:56 PM.
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Old 02-09-24, 04:53 PM
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I immediately contacted my friend Pablo. Met him 10+ years ago when he was changing $$ to pesos. A street hustler if you will.

explanation: official banks:$1usd = 24 Cuban pesos
in fancy hotels, $1= 20 pesos

mind you, the Cuban people cannot exchange for USD and if someone has the opportunity to defect, they do not want to be broke.

enter Pablo. He offers $1 = 32 CUC or Cuban pesos. Not bad.

he also asked me to bring two very specific bottles of wine. Dominus and Opus One.

this was Pablo bragging to someone that he could get his hands on these hard to get bottles, and earn street cred.

But first, a lil background on restaurants here.

All restaurants/bars/discos are owned by the Cuban government. The one exception….if you open a lil place with less than 12 seats.
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Old 02-09-24, 05:10 PM
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So, with the 12 seat rule, a few joints have opened.

funny thing, in the big park, where men in groups of three are taking turns screaming at each other*

*groups bigger than 3 are considered an organized group protest. Not welcome in this regime.

the big park has a famous ice cream place with amazing flavors. Like Salt and Straw with less hipsters.

in front they have 12 concrete column seats spaced an odd 6’ apart. Not a COVID thing, but designed to make maximum space of their counters and still stay within the law.

anyway, Pablo takes me to an door, no sign, and they lead us to a table in a small room of 3 tables.

meanwhile I keep seeing hordes of people entering this small place, and walking through the kitchen.

the owner noticed my eyes following these people and asked if I’d like a tour.

hello. Yes.

walking through the kitchen, the other door opened up into the interior of the entire block. Four stories of apartments, with walkways on the inside, balconies all lined with tables of happy diners.

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Old 02-09-24, 05:30 PM
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I am jealous Rob!

There are some really crazy New Orleans - Cuba connections. When I was there for Carnival we were with the Rebirth Brass Band, and meet up with Conga de los Hoyos a conga band with a hundred year history. One of their founding members was Antonio Maceo, one of the leaders of the Cuban War of Independence (1895-1898). We found out while we were there that Maceo had been in New Orleans, before the war, gathering money and resources and had attended the same church in the Treme, N.O. that members of Rebirth still attended. He was also said to have had a Brass Band with him as he fought from the east to west of Cuba.

This is how I spent the week, but add Rebirth Brass band to the mix.
-
Spent quite a few hours over a few night here as well -
you might recognize Elias Ochoa from the Buena Vista social club albums, but his way lesser known (outside of Santiago) sister was the highlight of the trip. I came around a dark corner at 2-3 a.m. and she was on a tiny stage playing to less than 20 people, mesmerizing. I bought a copy of this the next day
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Old 02-09-24, 05:32 PM
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This morning I decided to ride without an agenda. So glad I did.


Outside in my locked courtyard.

El capitola



To me, an amazing look into how these fantastic structures are falling down. Lack of rebar??


Miro?

The bar in the middle is where the Mojito was invented. Tourist trap, sure.
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Old 02-11-24, 08:06 PM
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Well,,,,,,,,,?
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Old 02-12-24, 10:34 AM
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Old 02-12-24, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by bikingshearer
Re: seeing Fidel and Che: As a comparison, when I was in Nicaragua in 2016, you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a picture of Daniel Ortega (or just "Daniel!" - he had long since become a one-named phenomenon).
When I was in Cuba in 2019, there was virtually no Fidel iconography. Plenty of Che, and every little village and city had a park or monument, or both for José Martí, the 19th century revolutionary in Cuba's fight for independence from Spain. Fidel actively discouraged use of his name or picture to avoid the type of personality cult seen in the USSR for Marx and Lenin. Even his tombstone was quite plain: just "Fidel" and nothing else. I watched an honor guard march past his grave, but it wasn't to honor Fidel, they kept going to José Martí's tomb, which is far more extravagant.
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