La Cueva

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La Cueva (The Cave)

The next morning Tania felt a little better but still didn’t have much appetite. Brunilda served delicious fresh fruits at every meal. Papaya, bananas, pineapple, and oranges. After breakfast we did a four hour horseback tour of the valley.

Juanqui our horseback guide, first took us through the valley to a cave where a couple guides led us through the pitch darkness to an underground pool. As they led us past the stalagtitos y stalagmitos my H4N recorder mysteriously started playing. I did a quick recording and playback to demonstrate the device and they were pretty amused. One of the guides seemed to share my love of noise making as he was almost constantly whistling, clucking, snorting like a pig, or doing Donald Duck impressions. Naturally I had to get some recordings of him as the ambience in the cave was fantastic. I was the only one to swim in the cave pool and modestly stripped down to my boxers. Tania pointed out that it probably wasn’t a good idea as I had no option but to put my pants back on over my wet boxers before continuing to ride “Ronco” the horse.

Next, we went to the Casa of a Campanero. He didn’t actually live there, but he gave us coconuts with rum, grapefruit juice, and honey with a cigar. He explained and demonstrated the rolling process and offered the one he made as a gift. Then he offered to sell us some cigars that his father rolled wrapped up in a palm leaf. 24 cigars for $40CUC and we preferred them by far over the Montecristos we bought on our first day.

After we returned to the casa, I invited Juanqui to join us for a cerveza so we went to the open air stand up the street. People kept greeting Juanqui - it’s a small village so I guess everyone knows each other. People kept telling us “he’s a good man, but his English is not so good”. We met his brother and his friend Ernesto joined us. His English was very fluent, and he was very well educated. He told us how it had been one of his goals to play major league baseball, but when the time came he wasn’t willing to leave his family behind for good. Apparently one of his friends did defect to play for the Chicago White Socks. His other two goals were to learn English and travel to a cold country.

We popped in and out of Carnivale throughout the rest of the day. The music was pumping out of two massive stacks of speakers until 4am, and the real thick of the celebration was still to come after we left. The street was barricaded on either end and lined with stalls selling food, drinks, crafts, noise and light makers, shoes, and there were a couple carts filling 1.5L bottles with beer. I asked Ernesto about them and he said “It’s very low quality, watered down, and it gives you a terrible hangover”.

There was a bar adjacent to where the Carnivale was taking place so we went in there to hear some live music and get some respite from the Cubaton induced craziness in the plaza. The salsa band was like a Spanish ABBA. They had three front women with synchronized dance moves, one of which played the flute. We saw some fantastic salsa dancers while they played. Tania and I made an unsuccessful attempt to dance but quickly gave up.

Following the salsa band was a dance act featuring three women and one man in a garish blue sequins vest. After the dancing a man started singing to backing tracks in the middle of the dance floor. We left shortly after he started because we had an early bus to catch the next morning. The morning after Carnivale we were up at 6am and had one last desayuno with Brunilda. More delicious fresh fruit and cafe con leche. Both mornings she even made us sandwiches to take with us for lunch. Such a sweet woman.

The main street where we caught the bus was also where the Carnivale took place. The vendor stalls were all still set up and there was a number of people milling around one. There was also a few people sleeping on the street and one couple still drinking. We had a minor scare at the bus office when we found out that we weren’t on “the list”. We’re still not entirely sure what the story was there, but we had to wait before we could buy tickets.

credits

from Sonidos de Cuba, released April 26, 2013
Scott Riesterer - Trumpet

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ScottMFR Vancouver, British Columbia

Scott Michael Francis Riesterer is a Sound Designer from Vancouver, Canada. He has contributed his audio skills to documentaries, short films, video games, and the Chevrolet Volt. Musically he dabbles in electronic genres like Downtempo, House, Techno, and Breaks. His latest project, Sonidos De Cuba is an ambitious album built upon field recordings from his travels in Cuba. ... more

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