Santiago de Cuba: July 1996: Carnival and Begging Cuban Children?

Hotel guests were invited to Carnival Parade in Santiago de Cuba. We were only a few who accepted and it was an absolutely unforgettable experience of Afro-Cuban culture. We took a bus into Santiago de Cuba an impressive but decaying example of colonial architecture. Everyone was out partying in the street. The air was heavy with beer fumes. We had a tour of the parade route. Lots of pink and white colours and the streets were brimming with people drinking beer and buying food from stands. Tradition requires one to take a chamber pot put a sausage in it and fill it with beer. Almost everyone had a clay pot but some had plastic ones. Our guide Eli warned us to hold our belongings tight as Santiago de Cuba has a tradition of training the world’s best pickpockets! Brought a sandwich and a banana for dinner but the banana got mushed in transport and made the sandwich soggy and inedible. Fries from a stand were excessively greasy. Beer was $1. We had an excellent view in the grandstand sitting with local dignitaries. A never-ending stream of dancers and musicians paraded by in colourful costumes. All the villages in the province spend the entire year practicing for the parade and it shows. Some of the performers were singing in Creole. Most of the procession were blacks and one village portrayed the evils of slavery. One troupe had a horn that played what can be called a hypnotic tune. All were having a the time of their life. We left at 1 a.m. and the party was going on. A large group of children pounded on the bus door asking for “dollars”. Not sure if they were begging or just being kids?

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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