According to The Lonely Planet Guid, the Recipe for Being Cuban is: Take a dose of WWII rationing, and a pinch of Soviet-Era austerity, add in the family values of South America, the educational virtues of the US, and the loquaciousness of the Irish. Mix with the tropical pace of Jamaica and innate musicality of pastoral Africa…
While I was able to enjoy the culture, architecture and the beauty of Cuba, I was also struck by the limitations of everyday Cuban life.
And ultimately, I was deeply moved by the music of Cuba. With such a turbulent history, I can’t imagine what Cuba would be like today if it didn’t have music. Music and dance in Cuba is a part of their existence.
Some years ago, I wrote a blog about how as a music student in college, I struggled long and hard about the practical relevancy of music in people’s lives. It wasn’t until I was teaching music to children in the slums of Beirut that I realized that music indeed saves lives; I witnessed how the act of making music, practicing, and creating, powerfully restored the sense of human dignity.