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  1. #21
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Traveling to Cuba to play music

    Quote Originally Posted by BH9 View Post
    I've been talking to some friends about going next fall...
    Remember to avoid the hurricane’s season, but November should be cool and safe
    Life is just a bowl... some have cherries in it, some don’t. Those who have the cherries aren’t likely to share them though.

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    Default Re: Traveling to Cuba to play music

    Quote Originally Posted by milandro View Post
    Remember to avoid the hurricane’s season, but November should be cool and safe
    Weather patterns are not reliable.
    Early November .... ain't ne..ces...sar..i..ly safe.... melodic theme?
    Been active here since '77 when I told airport security that the X-ray of my 4/0 Penn reel sitting on my flute was not a WMD.

    Working on the money brokers in the family to put together a sailing experience for musicians to Cuba and the Caribbean.
    Learn to sail, use marine electronics, log captains hours and enjoy the Caribbean's music.
    Grand piano in the salon.... carbon fiber soundboard of course.
    JAZZ is a verb!

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    Default Re: Traveling to Cuba to play music

    I'm very familiar with hurricane season, thanks!

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    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Traveling to Cuba to play music

    I will go next time in mid to late November. I really like to go visit all the cities. If I ever have the chance to go back again in May, I’d like to go on the south side of the Island where there are some impressing diving locations (so I am told).

    Interesting enterprise chartering a vessel in the Cuban waters, but I suppose that there are some paperwork problems to be be overcome. The relations between the two countries are better but not yet THAT friendly.

    Aside for the huge cruise ships, one of which you can just about see in the right corner of the pic with the red Chevelle above, US boats and ships aren’t allowed in Cuba ( I think) aside from Guantanamo.
    Life is just a bowl... some have cherries in it, some don’t. Those who have the cherries aren’t likely to share them though.

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    Default Re: Traveling to Cuba to play music

    It's a beginning for sure.
    http://www.havanarace.org/
    JAZZ is a verb!

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    Default Re: Traveling to Cuba to play music

    I just sent packages to minstein and KeithL with reeds;not a huge amount by American standards, but hopefully appreciated there.

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    Default Re: Traveling to Cuba to play music

    Got the package Artstove; many thanks...I'm going to add my own older reeds and pieces.

    Thanks

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    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Traveling to Cuba to play music

    well let us know how it turns out and if you can share some pics.

    I am going next month to the Dominican Republic. I know it won’t be as nice as Cuba but maybe a little more comfortable. Diving, for sure, won’t be anywhere as nice and twice so expensive.
    Life is just a bowl... some have cherries in it, some don’t. Those who have the cherries aren’t likely to share them though.

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    Default Re: Traveling to Cuba to play music

    Dominican Republica is a blast. Beautiful people, great food and Merengue.
    Have a Presidente and some Barcelo rum. I used to go there a lot to play and always had a great time.
    Drive or ride in taxis with white knuckles for sure. It seems they lose two or three Major League Baseball players a year to car accidents.

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    Default Re: Traveling to Cuba to play music

    Quote Originally Posted by jazzbluescat View Post
    1950s autos are still used, and get this: they use Russian motors...which makes sense but still intriguing.
    Great looking, but they don't run, LOL?

    Can anyone who has been there comment on the water and beaches and also what the shark condition might be?
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  12. #31
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Traveling to Cuba to play music

    North of the island, no sharks to be seen anywhere although I wanted to and very much so!

    The only shark that I saw was nurse shark, large but absolutely harmless, that isn’t a shark that you really should worry about unless you stick your hand in its mouth.

    The South of the Island does have some location known for its shark population but they are not really in the costal areas but quite further away.

    I’ve dived in the south ( Bay of pigs) but no luck, no sharks to be seen, but it was a beach dive. Sharks are hard to find in coastal waters.

    The north coast is known for its sandy white beaches ( although there is plenty of rocks too but not the touristic areas). The South has this “ Jardines de la Reina” where you can find all sorts of things, even, if you are lucky the Cuban salty crocodile , they have sharks too there.

    Maybe next time. This year is Dominican Republic, north side, bad dives there.
    Life is just a bowl... some have cherries in it, some don’t. Those who have the cherries aren’t likely to share them though.

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    Default Re: Traveling to Cuba to play music

    Thanks, Milandro. I've been swimming with sharks plenty of times, and sometimes a bit aggressive, too, so that's a great report. (Don't like them.)

    How was the water temperature? Did the beaches gradually go into the water, or was there a close and sudden drop-off?
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    Default Re: Traveling to Cuba to play music

    Quote Originally Posted by milandro View Post
    North of the island, no sharks to be seen anywhere although I wanted to and very much so!
    Hey milandro, if you want sharks, pay a visit to my area! However, I don't think you'd necessarily want to encounter a Great White Shark around here.* I've seen one while kayaking out in the ocean and that was enough shark sightings for me...and the water here is COLD.

    So, on second thought, better stick with diving in Cuba.

    *p.s. I have heard you are safer from sharks well under water (diving), than floating around on the surface like a seal, one of the shark's favorite food sources.

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    Default Re: Traveling to Cuba to play music

    Yep.

    But I was surprise3d, when I first scuba dived in my favorite body surfing site to see how many sharks were circling below. Yikes! (But they never bothered us.)
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    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Traveling to Cuba to play music

    Hello Gary, I absolutely recommend a trip to Varadero.

    In Varadero Cuba the beach is very shallow ( and beautiful one of the best ever for me) for quite a while and only after a long walk it gently drops to a a deeper but still sandy slope where you can find conches.

    The waters are populate of some schools of small fish and that attracts the occasional pelican which goes into a dive.

    Water temperature in May last year was high even when the weather wasn’t too good.

    At 30 meter depth ( my deepest dive) my watch gave 28Cº temperature which is pretty warm.

    I was diving with a 3mm full suit ( and so were many visitors) but locals were diving with shorties. The groups of the diving centre were the smallest and best served by instructors that I’ve ever had. The equipment was well used but kept in good order. The cheapest diving ever. $200 buys you 10 dives.

    Absolutely worth it. Cuba is an Amazing country and not as spoiled by tourism as other countries have been. The greatest of the Cuban possession is dignity and poise. That really affects everyone.

    As for enjoying sharks, of course there is an element of danger but the reality is that you dive to see this beautiful other world under water. Attacks of divers are very rare and one shouldn’t challenge the animal. Unfortunately you see lots of people with no respect for nature, they dive with the attitude “ I paid for this so it is all mine” . I wouldn’t dive in an area with great whites that would be silly. I don’t do the type of diving (like going for days on a “ liveaboard” diving 3 or 4 times a day) that gives you the best chances to do these things. My diving is very tranquil, cheap, and adds a little to my holidays).
    Life is just a bowl... some have cherries in it, some don’t. Those who have the cherries aren’t likely to share them though.

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    Default Re: Traveling to Cuba to play music

    Thanks, Milandro.
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    Default Re: Traveling to Cuba to play music

    I just got back from Cuba two days ago. There's really too much to tell in a forum post but here are a few thoughts and impressions.

    It's a very interesting place with many contrasts and contradictions. My girlfriend, Tami, speaks near perfect Spanish (even the Cubans told her so) and that made our trip and the experiences we had access to much more interesting. Outside of the resort areas in and around Veredaro I suspect there are few Cubans who speak English, at least compared to Europe where much of the population seems to speak some amount of English. The two hosts we had at our Casa Particulars (one in Havana and one in the town of Trinidad) spoke enough to communicate the basics but their spouses spoke virtually none and any in-depth conversations on any topic took place in Spanish with Tami translating back to me in English since my Spanish is very limited.

    The people are smart, thoughtful, outgoing, and in general finding they want more American tourists to come visit. This in itself is a big step as the general population of the county is working to overcome 50+ years of propaganda (some of which is still seen around the country) painting the US and Americans as the enemy. Food and drinks (especially rum) are very cheap by American (metropolitan or city) standards. The most Tami and I combined could rack up in one sitting was $40 for a full dinner including bottled water, two Mojitos, full meals, desert, and tip - and that was at the restaurant that Obama ate at while he was visiting, the Paladar de San Christobal.

    It was hotter than Hades and more humid than anyplace I've ever been for an extended period. I grew up in New Jersey where it can be hot and humid for a few days at a time in July and August but Havana was on a whole other level for me. Coming from cool/dry Colorado this was brutal and if I were to go back I'd probably try to go over my winter break in early January when it is a little cooler. I can't imagine being there in July or August as May was about all I could stand.

    While food is inexpensive and in most places much better than we were led to believe, and rum is nearly as cheap as water, other things are relatively expensive like t-shirts and ball caps which were priced at or above US prices. Cigars seemed expensive to me as well but I don't know much about cigars and checking the US prices for the box of Cohiba Esplendidos I bought from one of our Casa hosts would indicate I got a very good deal on those. Of course that's assuming I actually got those. There appears to be a thriving gray/black market for cigars so your never quite sure what you are getting even from the government run shops though I suspect your odds are better there. I bought them from our host more as a gesture to them and to help them out than anything else. I have a humidor but even so keeping them from drying into dust here in Colorado won't be easy. I'm almost tempted to try and sell them for the $700 a box they go for here in the US which would cover 3/4 of what we spent on everything besides lodging for the 8 days we were there.

    As for other things; I gave away 5-6 sets of guitar strings and one set of electric bass strings to grateful players but it turns out these aren't particularly hard for them to get now though I think stand-up bass or double bass strings would be very much appreciated still. I saw very few sax players in my travels and gave a handful of tenor reeds to a guy with a soprano in a bar, and another guy playing bass clarinet in another club. I gave a box of tenor reeds to the only sax player I actually heard playing sax at a hotel bar in Trinidad. He was a young tenor-man who had gone to school for music in Santiago and a very fine player. I did see several flute players as this seems to be the woodwind of choice for both accompanying the guitar and Latin hand percussion based traditional salsa-style Cuban folk music as well as the more percussion driven Afro-Cuban Son styles which require the higher more piercing frequencies of flute in the upper octave to even be heard. Trumpet was also often part of the instrumentation in similar fashion; muted for the traditional styles and high and screechy for the Afro-Cuban stuff. We also brought several tubes of toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, and assorted other things which were very gratefully accepted. By far the most requested and appreciated item by almost everyone we interacted with were pens. If you are planning a trip to Cuba in the near future I suggest bringing a few boxes of ball point pens. We gave away about two dozen and likely could have given away 10 times that if we had them to hand out as they are much sought after.

    On the downside, as with many places where tourism is a significant part of the economy, there is some begging, and a fair amount of what I would call "grifting". People will come up and begin talking to you in a seemingly innocent way and then slowly begin working you for money or to buy stuff. We also had our Casa keys lifted in Old Havana though I suspect the thief was hoping for something better. Right now I suspect your chances of getting robbed in Cuba are relatively small and despite spending a great deal of time in some (by American standards) very run-down sections of Centro Havana I never felt scared or concerned for our safety. (The taxi ride to Trinidad is another matter but taxi drivers the world over all seem to be genetically programmed the same way.) Regardless, like anyplace popular with tourists, you need to be cautious with valuables.

    All-in-all I really enjoyed it. I wish I had seen more sax and jazz players but sometimes things just work out the way they do. The Casa we were staying at in Havana was about two blocks from the Casa de la Musica in Centro Havana but it is presently closed for renovations and we didn't get over to the one in Miramar. Regardless, I would recommend a trip to Cuba especially if you are looking for a different travel experience and can go during a cooler time of the year.

  19. #38

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    Default Re: Traveling to Cuba to play music

    Nice write-up...I leave tomorrow morning.

    I have a bag of 100 pens (as well as reeds and mouthpieces) to give away, along with 5 reams of lined paper.

    I'm expecting hot and humid....and will also be staying in Havana...I speak passable Spanish...and hope it is enough.

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    Default Re: Traveling to Cuba to play music

    Quote Originally Posted by minstein View Post
    Nice write-up...I leave tomorrow morning.

    I have a bag of 100 pens (as well as reeds and mouthpieces) to give away, along with 5 reams of lined paper.

    I'm expecting hot and humid....and will also be staying in Havana...I speak passable Spanish...and hope it is enough.
    I'm sure you'll be fine and have a great time.

    Yes paper is also in short supply though it's heavy and bulky to carry so we didn't bring much. Things like Band-Aids and ibuprofen are good to bring as are cheap sunglasses which are available there but expensive luxuries most of the common folk.

    One other thing I didn't mention is changing money can be a bit of a challenge. You'll probably need to change some at the Cadeca at the airport for the taxi into Havana (25 - 30 CUC) you could take a bus as well but I wouldn't unless you know exactly what you are doing. There's a Cadeca in Old Havana on Obispo about 3-4 blocks down from the El Floridita on the left (north) side. These places are easy to walk right past because there aren't big signs advertising them. Don't be surprised if the line is longer than it looks as Cubans don't queue up to stand in lines the same way we do. Also don't bother changing any money over to CUP unless you want it as a souvenir as nobody wants this money even the beggars in most cases. It's 25 CUP to 1 CUC which means you need to have dozens of bills to buy anything with it and since almost everything at anyplace you are likely to go is priced in CUC it's pointless to have CUP regardless of what the guide books say.

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    Default Re: Traveling to Cuba to play music

    I've been working through the Cuban cigars I got when I was in the Carribbean last month, and the two standouts were the H. Upmann Corona Major and the Partagas Serie D No. 4, both of which I preferred over the Montecristo Petit No. 2. There is a huge market in fakes, so you'd be wise to buy only at a La Casa Del Habano, which is the official licensed retailer of Cuban cigars around the world.

    Enjoy the trip! I'm from Miami, and would love to visit Cuba some day.
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