Santiago de Cuba is known for its musical scene. This is the town where Compay Segundo grew up.
You hear music everywhere (to be fair, you hear music everywhere in Cuba; not just in Santiago. But it seems to be more prevalent in this city). As we were walking back from dinner in the evening, we heard a band that sounded fantastic, so Jo and Mtn Val and I went in to this one bar/live-music venue in downtown Santiago de Cuba to grab a mojito and enjoy the show.
It was absolutely one of the funnest bands I’ve ever seen live! They had so much energy! The name of this band is Quinteto Caliz and I got one of their CD’s.
I also cleverly recorded one of their fantastic numbers (and Jo dancing with a band member).
And yeah… I somehow had the sound turned off. You should see me kicking myself for it afterwards! Not a pretty sight.
Here’s someone else’s video that they recorded with the mic on. It’s on YouTube and may not be there forever, but I’ll insert a link, hoping that it stays up for a while.
Good times! This band was tons of fun and apparently taken with us, Americans. Americans are still a rare sighting in Cuba, so we’re very exotic. At one point the host was going around the room asking people where they’re from. Most said France, Canada, Germany. We were the only Americans in the room. After the show they wanted to hang out and take us to another bar, but we said no, lo siento, bicicletas mañana.
I’ve been asked about this whole ‘being American’ thing. Given that our two countries haven’t been on the friendliest of terms, how do people react in Cuba when you say you’re American? Well, most of the time I’d say that it’s with surprise. I’m sure that as Cuba-USA relations normalize there will be a whole lot more Americans and this may be replaced soon with a different reaction. Hopefully, it won’t be disgust.
American travelers, I’ve discovered, have a decent reputation abroad. At least in the less frequented by tourists places. If you’re an American and you make it to Asia or Africa, you are not an average lazy tourist. That’s what Mexico is for. And the Caribbean… Caribbean is tricky, because of so many cruises that circle around. I’ve noticed in the past, as I flew over the Caribbean islands, just how many cruise ships there are! It’s crazy, really. I’d spot one and then I’d spot another and another and then another. Anyways, I don’t want to stereotype people who go on a cruise, but there is a stereotype and it’s not a good one. Perhaps (this happens in a lot of touristy places) the port towns will soon be full of jaded Cubans, but the countryside will remain friendly and welcoming?
When I go back (and I WILL go back), I’ll check and see if anything has changed. And I’ll definitely report back!