What is a trip to Havana without music, dancing and mojitos? My group of 11 U.S. travelers and I were about to find out. The Cuban government, which controls most aspects of everyone’s life, declared that there woulld be no music, no dancing, no alcohol and all public events would be cancelled for 9 days to honor the death of Fidel Castro.
While most Cubans must at least pretend they are sad – and all government workers were “suggested” thay attend a rally in Plaza de La Revolución and sign a recommitment to the communist party – many serepitiously admit they are greatly relieved and share with their countrymen-in-exile’s a desire to celebrate “the man who passed away.”
For many months I’d planned an extensive itinerary that would include music and dancing, drinking and partying Cuban-style. At the last minute, my coordinator on the ground, Ruby Aguilar, and I scrambled to rearrange our 8 days and offer different activities amid the somber atmosphere.
Surprisingly, there was little evidence of this mourning, besides the unusual quiet in the streets. Thinking we’d have no access to alcohol, some of bought bottles in our ship-though luggage. But tourist hotels like Ambos Mundos (of Hemingway fame), the Nacional Hotel and others were not about to miss out on additional revenue or bad vibes by denying tourists their mojitos, cerveza and wine. We’ve been drinking. Perhaps more than normal to compensate for this time of austerity and false mourning.
As of tomorrow, December 5th, 2016, many conjecture there will be a giant party to ‘let loose’ all this pent-up nergy. We shall see. But one thing we’ve already seen is a huge increase in the number of tourists. Airport lines for immigration and customes (Aduana) were absurd and the streets of Habana Vieja are more crowded than ever with foreign wanderers… us among them.
Stay tuned for more.