The man and I married in May 2001. And being travellers, we planned a trip to India for the end of that year as a honeymoon. We had already hiked through the southwest for two weeks and had spent 6 weeks in southern Africa together. In fact, shortly after we started dating, I went on a trip to Cape Town while he had to be in Japan on business. You can only imagine the long distance charges on the calls from Tokyo to the bottom of Africa. This was pre-social media.
Plans were well underway and flights booked. And then 9/11 happened and travelling through northern India next door to Afghanistan didn't seem like such a great idea. Plan B. That'd be Cuba.
If you know anything about me at all by now, our Cuba trip was going to be far from the resort-y beach holiday. Or at least that wouldn't be all of it.
We were excited. Very excited. We both love architecture. And latin music. The man's a jazz drummer on the side who also loves latin jazz. And history. Tick, tick, tick - Cuba was the perfect choice. The man even knew someone who had transferred to Havana and was working there and I had relatives of a grad school classmate who were living in there too. We were set for a "real" trip, not the tourist-y one. The insider's trip to Cuba.
This post, the first of a series, is about some of the music that we heard. That we sought out. That we found.
When I was in Cuba, I kept hearing a song. No matter where we went, we heard it. I HAD to have it.
Remember, neither of us knew any Spanish. French? Yup - we live in a bilingual country. Spanish, nope. So I only knew the chorus of the song phonetically. And my butchered Spanish accent was not going to get me very far in Cuba - they have their own distinctive accent and slang. But I perservered. I knew that it was something about mountains and stars -
The shops are pretty empty. Almost completely empty. Or at least they were then. I found a cd shop in Havana and went in. Empty shelves. Between hand gestures and my limited Spanish, I was able to communicate that I wanted a copy of the cd that had this song. I didn't know the artist but it was such a huge hit that they eventually figured out what I was after. We negotiated a price and I returned the next day and bought the cd.
And here is the song, the number one hit in Cuba that year. And throughout Latin America and much of Europe too. I will never forget it. I hear it and I am right.back.in.Havana.