Havana, Cuba

Feb 09, 2018 - Harmony V

Shakespeare famously wrote, "If music be the food of love, play on!" Our day in Havana began with food and ended with music…alas, my love was many miles away back home, but she has been with me in spirit on this Cuban sojourn.

Our morning began with a drive through the tunnel that travels under Havana harbor eastward. Our guide reminisced that he used to think it was the longest tunnel in the world, until a first trip overseas revealed that it was really "a small hole in the ground…but it's our hole." The route took us to Alamar, a neighborhood of nearly 100,000 people built in the 1970s. The massive Soviet-style apartment buildings are nothing to get excited about, but we weren't here for the architecture.

Our destination was Alamar's organic farm, an urban oasis that is pioneering Cuba's drive toward local agriculture. Out guide, Isis, is the daughter of the farm's founder, and she and her father have spent the last twenty years creating a model community farm based on ecologically friendly techniques and culinary diversity. Afterwards, we explored Alamar, wandering into hair salons, farmer's markets and bakeries, always to a warm welcome by the locals.

After a fantastic lunch at the Abel paladar, a privately run restaurant, it was time to move from food to music as we enjoyed an energetic performance by dance and percussion troupe Havana Compás. Their captivating blend of Spanish flamenco with Afro-Cuban percussion had us all smiling and tapping our toes.

The music continued with an impromptu visit to Patio Egrem, a music venue in Centro Havana connected to Cuba's oldest recording studio. We were treated to a traditional rumba, and Afro-Cuban music and dance form that is an essential expression of Cuban culture.

And the beat continued once we got to dinner on the roof deck of the stylish Parque Central hotel. There, we were blessed by a marvelous private performance by Septeto Nacional de Ignacio Piñero, a band that was founded way back in 1927. Food and music were united during an excellent meal spiced with world-class musical accompaniment. And, yes, much dancing ensued.

  • Send

About the Author

Jacob Edgar

Cultural Specialist

Jacob Edgar is an Ethnomusicologist, world music tastemaker and global explorer with an insatiable curiosity for the diverse ways in which people express themselves through music. Jacob’s adventures have taken him to dozens of countries, and hundreds of the world’s greatest international music festivals, showcases and performance venues in search of exceptional musical talents. Since 1998, Jacob has been the main music researcher for the acclaimed world music compilations label Putumayo World Music, contributing songs and liner notes to over 300 Putumayo collections that combined have sold over 15 million copies. In 2006, Jacob founded the record label Cumbancha, whose artists include some of the top names in international music. In 2009, Jacob embarked on a new adventure as host of a new music and travel television program Music Voyager. The series invites viewers to discover the exciting sounds of the planet and broadcasts on PBS and other stations around the world. While pursuing his undergraduate degree at Oberlin College, where he was a double major in History and Latin American Studies, Jacob conducted field research on music and society in Central America. His love of music took him to the West Coast where Jacob was awarded the Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities and graduated from University of California, Los Angeles in 1994 with a Masters in Ethnomusicology.

Get our newsletter

Join us for updates, insider reports & special offers.

Privacy Policy