Opening Statement



Friday, 12 August 2011

Santiago de Cuba Diary 2

Thursday  August 12
I did some banking this morning and looked over the funding proposals I have received. They are relatively modest in price, pretty innovative and well thought out. I will still be talking to the teachers some more about them.
Today I went with Professor Jose Luis to the Casa Trova and we enjoyed some very good traditional Santiago de Cuba music, vocal with light instrumental accompaniment on guitar and claves. It was very relaxing and pleasant. Everybody, and I think they were all Cubans except for myself, were just there for the music, listening intently, and talking to the band on stage between songs. Outside I tipped an older gentleman sitting on a ledge at the Casagrande Hotel. A leathery weather beaten face, old straw hat, shirt, pants and worn running shoes, cigar and guitar. He sang with a powerful voice, and though it cracked at times, he had such emotion; it was very forceful and moving, one from the heart. In Cespedes Parque a lively combo was shilling for CUC’s, and had their wives, girlfriends and children sitting with them, on a bench under the trees. I videotaped a few songs, which they all wanted to see, and laughed and laughed. I don’t know of anywhere else where folks have such simple charm and are so warm and inviting too. The musicians will play for you hoping for a tip, and it is always well worth it to hear and lots of fun too.
Jose and I took a cab up to Morro Castle, overlooking the entrance to the harbour. It’s a huge Spanish battlement with spectacular views of the city, the harbour and the open sea. The sun was beating down very hot; I drank near half a litre of water on our way back home. My IPhone accidently fell out and got lost as I was getting out of the cab. I panicked. It’s easily worth about a year’s salary here. I called Jose. He called the taxi driver, who found it between the front seat and the door on the passenger side, and promptly drove over to give it back to me. There are still a lot of people here with strong character. I don’t know what the chances would be for that in happening in Toronto, but I don’t think they are good.
Tonight some teachers are coming over for a meeting, and tomorrow we are going to Guadalavaca beach where I hear the snorkelling is excellent, and we are all looking very forward to the excursion, even though the bus picks us up at 6 am. Tonight won’t be a late one and I am pretty pooped anyay from a great day just enjoying the city.

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