We were walking down one of the cobblestone streets of old town when we heard the laud voice of a rock guitar. We were heading back to our Casa to meet the rest of our group so we hesitated for a moment, but then thinking ‘you only live once’ we followed the music.
If I was to give one advice on how to have the best time in Cuba it would be ‘follow the music’ which might sound simple, but not necessarily is.
Up to now music we came across in Cuba had either little to do with salsa cubana or had commercial, tourist flavor. We almost gave up after missing the salsa show on our first night in Trinidad. That night we followed promise of a stranger and ended up in club called The Cave. And this is what happened. We were all dressed up and ready for dancing when we arrived in Plaza Major where Casa de la Musica in Trinidad is. We had to climb terraced, cobblestone stairs full of people and tables, just to find out the salsa show was over and all we could do is pay to get into a club with popular music. Disappointed we tried to enquire if there is any place where we could dance salsa. This is when somebody told us about The Cave.
We didn’t know what to expect or how to get there. It was already after dark and we were heading for a deserted and unknown (to us) part of the town. We asked again and again for directions and as they were given in Spanish I didn’t understand a thing, so just followed the rest. When we thought we were lost we asked for directions one more time and this time a Cuban decided to walk with us. It was getting more and more scary. We were heading outside the center of old town, there were no people on the streets and less and less street light. At some point we heard male voices from behind and thought we were trapped. Or maybe it was just me.
Suddenly our guide stopped and pointed towards the top of a muddy mountain. We could see a lamp post and some people underneath it. Well, I guess it felt safer than going back. The man who brought us there turned around and walked away. He came all this way just to make sure we don’t get lost. I felt bad about being so untrusty. The thing is I never used to be like that but this year (2012) was a hard one and I got hurt one time too many. I never wanted that to happen. I believe in people, it’s a conscious choice, you can choose what yo want to believe in. So now I try to get rid of limp distrust and be back myself.
So we did climb the hill and found ourselves in front of a hole in the rock type of entrance. It looked promising but no music was to be heard. We decided to pay 3 CUC each just to see it inside. The Club is called Ayala, located about 100 feet underground in massive nature cavern, is one of the most unique clubs I’ve been to anywhere. The music was laud, cocktails strong (you get one in the price of ticket) and the dance floor full. Worth having a look and you might as well as love it if you hit the right time.
Let’s go back to the rock guitar. I think we were just on the corner of Calle Francisco Gomez Toro, we turned into it and went half of it’s length. There were three lads and two girls (one in my age the other around seven/eight). They were artists sitting in front of their gallery, drinking vodka made from bananas and celebrating the birthday of one of them. 30th. They invited us to sit down and join them. We didn’t speak Spanish, they spoke English a little bit, the willingness to communicate and laugh on both sides made us feel comfortable and open to non verbal communication. Or maybe it was the bananas. Adam exchanged cigarettes (modern age calumet). Lucky Strike for Hollywood and some local brand without the filter. We still don’t know if what they were saying meant that LS are better or shit. We listened to Nirvana and Iron Maiden. I didn’t want to leave but loyalty and guilt made us stand up and go to pick up our friends, so they could join the party and have some fun.
We came back with the rum, which Cuban told us is crap. Well we drunk it anyway. Maria was with us and alcohol was in our veins so suddenly conversation became very easy. More people joined and among them a couple that danced salsa. I asked them to give us a show, reluctantly they agreed. We couldn’t find a way to play the music and had to sort out a separate recorder but finally music was on and we were on our feet. First we watched them dance and then Marysia, Maria and I took some lessons. I had a great time. My dream came true. I think I need to make list of all the dreams that come true just so I keep track. Just a joke.
Our merry company:
And it really wasn’t only me:
Afterwards somebody said to go to Casa de la Musica to watch the salsa performance. And so we did. We saw band playing and people dancing. Phenomenal couple in blue. Maria and I wanted to dance but no men seemed to be eager. We left them behind and took the dancing floor by force. This is because there were so many people it was hard to find space. After a while we saw our Cuban friends looking down at us with disapprovement. No, no, no, no… and now we danced in couples. Great night!
Some more pictures, next post will be about horse riding, trekking the jungle like the first explorers and swimming underneath the waterfall.