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Published: March 9th 2018
Today the search was on for some Cuban music. What I really wanted to see in Santiago is the Folklorico
which is afro-cuban style of dance. The LP guide mentions three groups, two of which put on performances on Sunday. Plus we had heard there is a fiesta on today. (not sure what for but a party is a party) We went in search of the Casa del Caribre which LP claims one of the Folklorico
groups performs on Sunday afternoons. We were hoping to get the times they perform…not that time means much in Cuba. We walked down Jose A Saco, which is like a big mall, looking for this Casa. Alas we didn’t find it. We did however find another tuk tuk driver who barely spoke any English offering to take us on a ride like yesterday. We said no. While we were still looking at our maps trying to find Cas del Caribre he came back to offer us help. When we mentioned the Casa, “Oh si, in Plaza de la revolucion. I take you.” Convenient no? We politely thanked him and walked away.
We walked uphill along Jose A Saco, as there is a Jazz bar at
the other end. We knew it probably wouldn’t be open but once again hoping to get the opening hours. We did find the Jazz club but sadly not only was it not open, we think it may be closed on Sundays. On the upside we did get to see Plaza de Marte, which is quite a nice square dedicated to Jose Marti, Cuban poet and revolutionary. And it has a WIFI hotspot that works, so I downloaded google maps for Santiago and checked in on Facebook so folks back home know we are still alive.
We made our way back down the hill to Plaza de Delores where we had lunch yesterday. Over lunch we were serenaded twice by Cuban musicians. The first one approached our table and just started singing to us. I suppose it’s charming but when so much attention is directed strait at me, it’s pretty embarrassing. We gave him a tip, (which was apparently not enough) and he went away. Just after him two others approached us. We had seen these two guys in the street earlier, one of them stopped and professed his love for me. Cuban men are definitely not backward about coming
forward. I cannot count the number of whistles or kisses have been directed at us since arriving. Back to the story, our musician friends pulled out their instruments for another serenade and my shoulders slumped. We couldn’t take anymore. “no no lady, you don’t have to pay” Which is the first time we’ve heard that here. So we were serenaded again. We had a little chat to them afterwards and they were actually very friendly and helpful. At no fee, I like them….and apparently one of them loves me!
We returned to the Casa in the afternoon for a rest as we wanted to go out to Casa le Trova in the evening to finally get a glance at this Cuban salsa we have heard so much about. Around 7.30 we headed out to find some dinner and salsa. We found Casa le Trova, the doors were open but the club was not. A brief Spanglish conversation we worked out we could come back at eight for dancing lessons. We tottled across the road for pizza and then returned just after eight. Turns out our Spanglish is about as bad as our Spanish. No lessons, come back at eight.
So we found another bar (AKA as Dunny Jackpot) to have a few drinks and wait until the salsa started. Now one thing to know about Cuban restaurants, just because something is on the menu does not always mean its available. We ordered a mojito and a pina colada. They had just enough ingredients for one pina colada so that was OK. For the second round we ordered two mojito’s. I think they must have run out of soda water as well because it just tasted like rum and mint. We couldn’t drink it. Jo said her lips went numb.
After giving up the attempt to drink our second mojito we decided to adjourn to another bar. As we walked around the corner we realised Casa la Trova was open so we went in. After standing at the door and waiting for five minutes while the door bitch stuffed around doing nothing at all. We paid our entrance fee and went upstairs. We were greeted with a whole cruise ship of grey nomads who had just got off the boat for a night out in Santiago de Cuba. This was not exactly what I had in mind when looking for salsa. There were a few dancers milling about and working the crowd. Getting everyone up and teaching us to dance, which was fun. The band was fantastic. But safe to say it was a bit of a disappointment. We did end up talking to some of the cruise ship crew. They were quite entertaining and very impressed with my attempt at a Texan accent.
After our dance lesson a couple of the instructors started to get a little too friendly so we decided to make an exit. By this stage the cruise ship crew were across the road at the hotel Casa Granda which has a roof top bar that allegedly has amazing views. It does, and a decent Pina Colada and dunny jackpot. We joined them there for a drink but unfortunately it could be only one as the bar was closing. We had a great chat and met some very funny folks. After the bar staff kicked us out we said good bye to our American/Canadian friends and made our way home.
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