Rancho Luna and Cienfuegos

Jan 11, 2018 - Harmony V

It is thanks to unexpected circumstances, sometimes, that we get to live amazing experiences. A plan B can be surprisingly enjoyable, because it happens without expectations. It’s all about the attitude. Any experience in life is a good one, especially if it’s in a new site, a place seen for the first time.

Today we went to a beach I had not visited before. It was the opportunity to taste the Caribbean waters, to swim in its warm and salty ocean of turquoise shallows and darker deeper blues. This is Rancho Luna, a beach surrounded by mangroves and with the view of the Escambray Mountains in the back ground.

It was good to hear the waves gently crashing on the soft coralline sand. It was good to walk and feel Cuba underneath our feet. We need to stop for a while, and enjoy the moment without explanations or talking. Today we had the opportunity of some communion with the Caribbean Sea and with ourselves; a couple of hours to relax and think about the beauty of being alive and of having had the opportunity of sharing with so many generous Cubans. They have opened the doors of their homes and their hearts to us.

But we had to have the ingredient of music as well. This is Cuba after all! We moved to the Museum of Cienfuegos where the Orquesta de Cámara de Cienfuegos had prepared an amazing private performance, only for our small and fortunate group.

They made us feel the music from inside ourselves. They went into a trance while playing the violins, or the piano, or the drums, and we were transported as well, traveling through the history of music in this country shaped by syncretism in all aspects of its life.

“Cuban music is like water,” said the speaker of the group, Fidel Ramos. “It takes the shape of its recipient, it´s flexible.” The Orquesta played Danzón, in their own particular way. “This is music of senior Cubans. It’s great to see our grandparents dressing up for a Sunday of Danzón. We want to keep it alive with our personal touch.”

They are fantastic. The women can play at one point the violin, but then also the African drums, and sing and dance. It was a feast to our senses. “We are all from the Academy, we have studied for years, and rehearsed for at least eight hours every day. But at some point we learned that we were never going to play like an Austrian or Japanese, like perfect machines, as they will never play the Guagancó like we do. We are Cubans, proud of our heritage and particular talent.”

Guests danced at the rhythm of Cha Cha Cha, and clapped, and smiled. These men and women are truly exceptional musicians, with the warmth and frankness of all the Cubans we have met. Enme Rifat, Emilia Bondarenko, Beatriz Martinez, Mónica González, Fidel Ramos, Antonio Adelit, and Zamanta de zafas, and their music, will all remain in our hearts.

We then had dinner at a lovely Paladar, along the French-looking street of Prado, at Casa Prado. A pleasant meal with sparkling wine and flan for dessert. What else could I ask for?

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About the Author

Paula Tagle

Expedition Leader

Paula grew up in Guayaquil where she obtained an undergraduate degree in geology from the Polytechnic University of Guayaquil. She enjoyed many field trips all around Ecuador and during her vacations traveled in Central and South America in the hope of learning more about her people and culture. The last year of her studies she worked at a mine looking for a more ecologically responsible way of recovering gold. Interested more in volcanoes than in raw materials, she came to Galápagos, a mecca for geologists, in 1992. She was bewitched by the other wonders of the islands and became a naturalist guide for the Galápagos National Park.

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