we had another wonderfully planned day of meetings and excursions for our last full day in cuba, starting with a ferry ride to regla to meet with cuban hip hop artists of the group obsesion in their home.
obsesion was founded in 1996 as one of cuba’s first hip hop bands and is focused on using hip hop as an expression of life in cuba. the members of the band are very involved in multidisciplinary art projects, mentor up and coming artists, and promote equality for blacks and women.
the band played some of their music videos for us – here’s my favorite si esta es mi mama!
we took a ferry ride over to regla which was quite an experience. the boat resembled a prison boat and was far from pleasant. there were also security guards checking bags, we later found out this is due to the numerous attempts of hijacking in order to get to the US.
we found the home of the band, above, and headed up the winding flights of stairs. the band’s logo grafitti’d on the walls below.
we all sat around the living room and listened to the band tell us about their past projects and current work. we could’ve spent all day talking with these people, asking questions on race and gender equality in cuba. they were so open and warm to host all of us in their home! we even got to meet the mom featured in the music video I linked above.
we left regla via bus thankfully and headed to lunch on the bay of havana. afterward we took an optional excursion to the home of a local seamstress who makes baby clothes. we all took taxis and toured revolutionary square in route.
for $25 total per car, we took taxis from our hotel to the seamstress’ home and then to cocktail hour. the cab drivers waited for us while we were in the home, I couldn’t believe what a good deal it was. we hopped back into our cabs and headed to café madrigal for a performance of cuban music throughout the years.
this was one of my favorite bars during the trip, it was understated and cool, with no pictures of cuban revolutionaries. it was definitely a local’s joint, not a tourist place. the musical performance by frank delgado was so enjoyable and educational. the staff brought us tons of appetizers to share including bruschetta, shrimp, pancetta and bleu cheese.
it was around this time that mom and I started to really not feel very well. we had made it all week without any traveler’s sickness and it seems it was catching up to us on our last day! we abstained from mojitos and instead had a remedial cocktail of pernod, bitters, and water which helped.
after the musical performance, they were selling original cuban film posters for $10. both mom and I bought one and then we all headed to paladar san cristobal for our farewell dinner.
we were greeted with cuba libres [rum + coke] and a welcome talk from the owner and chef of the restaurant. check out the decadent place settings and hors d’oeuvres tray below including quiche, fried eggplant, caviar, olive, plantains, and more.
we all reminisced over the past six days and thanked our tour guide and driver for their hard work and dedication. the staff brought out tasting rum and cigars for us for a final toast!
in the morning we had a few hours for a final walk on the malecon before heading to the airport. we got to the airport and noticed two very funny things that really sum up our perception of cuba: a sign that read “cuba, sin limites” or cuba, without limits with a picture of horseback riders AND a cyber café without internet or computers. on the surface, things look normal but there are deep seeded issues with policy and mentality that must change in order to be a part of the global landscape again.