Yup, that's where I have disappeared to for a week on a trip with my school's grade 11 & 12 band. Um, I sort of forgot to tell you that my posts would be minimal for about a week (okay, fine, non-existent)... yeah, sorry about that. Anyway.
It was a really awesome experience, definitely one you wouldn't get if you were just going to Cuba on vacation. The music was amazing -at one school there was four probably six-year-old girls singing in four part harmony! :O
Out of everything we did, though, there are definitely two things that affected everyone the most.
The first thing is we went to a music school in Havana:
First our concert band and one of the jazz bands played for them, and then they played for us. They were really good, and even played one of our songs (about ten times better and faster than we do). One of the final songs was more upbeat and a couple people from our group in the audience stood up and started moving and dancing on the spot. Very quickly everyone stood up and also started moving and clapping and dancing to the music. By the last song (which was also upbeat) everyone was at the back of the rows of chairs, dancing around and going around in conga lines like the one above (that is what they're called right? I feel like I have it wrong...).
Too soon, the band ended their last song. A bunch of our group started shouting "One more!" and then all the Cuban students started shouting I'm guessing what was "one more" in Spanish. The band didn't play another song, but a small group of brass players from some older grades came and started to play a bunch of songs. All the young elementary school kids that were watching upstairs came rushing downstairs with huge smiles on their faces and joined in.
|Elementary school kids watching from the balcony.|
We moved all the chairs and danced around -and man, are the Cubans good dancers! On the spot someone would think of a certain step they knew and then everyone would catch on and follow along.
It was so fun and cool seeing all us Canadians and Cubans interacting and having fun with each other even though we're so different and we speak different languages and we're from totally different countries. After all the music was done, everyone was talking with each other and getting pictures with all the different Cuban students. It was awesome. Definitely not an experience you would get in Cuba if you just went on a vacation.
The second thing we did that was really cool was visit a tobacco farm in the province Pinar del Rio, just outside of the city Vinales (I think).
It made me, and I'm sure everyone else, think, walking around on this little farm that had been pretty much destroyed a few years ago in a hurricane. To us, all it looked like they had was basic furniture and that's it. To us, they basically had nothing and yet they were so happy and so willing to let us walk around their property and look at their home and show us what their life was like. The eldest man in the house was 90 years old, and so cheery and smiley and willing to pose for pictures and giving away tobacco leaves that I'm sure he would've gotten money for otherwise. Oh, and he still works in the tobacco farms, to boot. At ninety!
We had a few bags of donations to give them afterward, and it was really cool seeing their faces and their gratefulness. It was special, special, special.
Those were just the two most memorable experiences of our week-long band trip. There were definitely lots of other awesome, fun things that we did, and I'm glad I got to go to experience them!
Anyway, now that I'm back... I'll try to start posting more!