During the last few months I discovered that I was developing a yen for another adventure of the travel variety. So I bought a ticket to Cuba, renewed my passport, filled my backpack with essentials, as well as a lot of stuff to give away to Cubans who lack a great many things that we take for granted. Since my Spanish sucks, it is not surprising that one of the most useful items in my pack was a Spanish-English dictionary. Since I was staying in Havana and not the one of the beach resorts, I quickly discovered that the average Cuban speaks about as much English as I do Spanish. If you ask a Cuban if he/she speaks English, they almost invariably say “so-so”, which, as it turns out, means “no”.
My destination was Havana via Varadero, it being cheaper to fly there and take the 3-hour $10 bus ride to Havana. I went in search of the music and I was not disappointed. I found it quickly and in abundance. It’s everywhere all the time and it’s all excellent. There seems to be no such thing as a bad band in Cuba. You may be listening to a guitar trio in a local club singing traditional Cuban music with breath-taking harmonies or a 15-piece charanga band churning out relentless salsa in a monster music hall. It’s all excellent.
Am I repeating myself?
If you love good music, Cuba is a must. I have yet to sample the musical wares in other Cuban cities but I expect the quality is comparable to what you would find in Havana. And the big bonus is that everything except cigars is still really cheap.