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On the Road in Trinidad (de Cuba)

©2005 Gary Robins "Celebrations for Jose Marti Day in Trinidad, Cuba"
January 29 – Yesterday was Jose Martí's 152nd birthday, a very big deal here in Cuba. On the streets of Trinidad, hundreds of little niños from schools all over the province assembled for a big parade from Parque Cespedes out to the stadium at the edge of town.

There were drummers and marching bands, kids dressed in costumes of all nationalities, kids dressed in colonial costumes, independence fighters, Che compañeros, and kids carrying cut-out paper doves calling for world peace. It was a colourful and exciting gathering!

Jose Martí, as we all know, was a poet, a national hero and is regarded as the father of Cuba. Jose was killed in 1895 during one of the many wars of independence that the Cubans fought against Spain. Many people, including both Carol and I, have long believed that he also wrote the words to Guantanamera, certainly the most popular song you'll find in this country. The crowds join in every time a band strikes up those opening chords. Actually, the song was written by Joseíto Fernandez Diaz, based on a poem by Jose Martí. Ironically, though the lyrics and the story are Cuban, the arrangement and tune we always heard was the version popularized by the great American folksinger Pete Seeger. Guantanamera is an integral part of every Cuban band's repertoire. It's a great song!

Carol has hooked up with David López, her old drumming instructor here and is taking percussion lessons every morning, mostly on the congas. David remembered her right away from our last visit, and showed up for her first lesson wearing his Cathedral Arts Festival t-shirt which we had given him three years ago.

Overall, Cuba doesn't seem to have changed much since our last visit, a few more goods on the shelves perhaps, a few more turístas here, but I think that's because it's been cold on the north coast and the tour busses have all migrated south for a while. It will balance out. After all, Cuba is much more than beaches and bars... there's also baseball!

Okay then.
Take me out to the ball game!

The streets of Trinidad were jammed with hundreds of children and families for the annual parade to celebrate Jose Marti Day. It's a school holiday and a really big deal in these parts.
Carol and her drumming instructor at the Teatro Brunet in Trinidad
Carol with her drumming instructor David López at the Teatro Brunet in Trinidad. David is a well-respected percussionist, and is known locally as El Señor de las Tumbadoras.

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