My only plan was to take it easy in order to recover my swollen ankles and jet lag. We had had 23 hours of travelling in all due to delays and a stopover in Madrid.
We were tired but the sun was shining and there was a ‘Welcome Meeting’ in Old Havana with our travel company, which we thought would be useful. So off we go to Old Havana where I stayed over ten years ago when I last came to Cuba.
After our meeting we head to Obispo Street to look for a CADECA, a money exchange place, and inevitably ended up stopping for a quick drink in one of Obispo’s buzzing bars. As we sip on our drinks a band started to play and before too long gathered a bit of a crowd of both tourists and locals. The lead personality in the band was performing some Latin dance steps while playing different percussion instruments.
The performer was performing the Cha Cha Cha and getting me to mirror his steps, which ranged from simple steps to hip circles and ending in pelvis thrusts!
Further along the road we come across a street performance group made up of musicians and dancing girls on stilts in carnival costumes. This group are regulars on these streets performing for the tourists and earning tips. There are now two regular big street carnivals every year in Cuba; one in Havana and the larger one in Santiago de Cuba. The carnival in Havana is being expanded every year and is not a big tourist attraction since Mid August is a low point in the tourist season and a time when it gets very hot!
The whole of Obispo had something of a carnival flavour on this ‘quiet’ Sunday afternoon as Latin rhythms poured out of every bar and along the street encouraging everyone to dance.
Photos by Monster Cat Pics