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I have the tendency to wallow. I know it’s counterproductive. I know it’s no fun to be around. I know it produces ulcers and zits, but all these years, try as I might, I’m still a focus-on-the-bad-shit kinda gal. So I’d like to take this opportunity to look on the bright side and be a positive force for once.
There is much to love about this island. Here are some of my favorite things.
The way the palm trees smell after it rains
5 cent cigars
No McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, or Mormons
Drinking little cups of sweet, black coffee around the kitchen table with friends
Yucca with mojo
The music – from Pancho Amat to Pancho Terry, Los Van Van to Los López-Nussas.1
How anything under the sun can be fixed and rendered functional
Young men helping little old ladies off the bus and other helpful gestures among strangers
The Malecón (of course)
Going to the stadium and watching the Industriales lose!2
How it can’t be considered a party unless people are singing and dancing
Almost anything grows (artichokes and asparagus notwithstanding)
Having turquoise water and white sand beaches 20 minutes away
Free health care – what’s better than that?!
How affectionate men are with each other
Recycling every single thing
Organic veggie markets
Telling the US to put it where the monkey put the shilling for 50 years – something no other country has had the ability (not to mention the cojones) to do.
1. Pancho Amat just sends me. A virtuoso tres player and musicologist, this guy is a must see/hear. I’d hyperlink to YouTube or something for easy listening, but my dial up can’t handle it.
Pancho Terry is formally trained as a violinst, but rose to greatness as director of the orchestra Maravilla de Florida and later as a chequere player. Recognized as the world’s best, he’s played with the inimitable Tata Güines, Changuito, and Bebo & Cigala.
Los Van Van are a super star salsa group known as the “Rolling Stones of Cuba,” they’re that great. I’ve seen tons of free concerts by these folks over the years; you might get lucky the next time you’re in town.
Los López-Nussas are an entire family of musical prodigies. Ernán López Nussa is a jazz pianist, while his brother Ruy López-Nussa is a jazz drummer. In turn, Ruy’s son Harold López-Nussa is a classical/jazz/rock pianist who won Montreaux at the absurdly young age of 22 and his brother, Ruy Adrián is a virtuoso drummer.
2. The Industriales are the NY Yankees of Cuban baseball. Either you love ’em or you love to hate ’em.
3. Cucuruchos are cones of sweetened coconut sold along the highway en route to Baracoa in Guantánamo Province.
This is dedicated to the one I love…..