20 years ago he was a celebrated boxing champion in Cuba. But after having advanced internationally he found out that there was no money in this sport. So he started to play the trumpet instead, as a mature 32 year old. The musician Dagoberto is one of many people in Cuba that has touched our lives with music and presence during the past days.
In the outskirts of Trinidad far away from the tourist path there´s a block of houses that lies with a beautiful view over the green and fruitful landscape. The houses are partly unfinished and the road is a very uneven path of soil packed together. In one of the last houses of the streets, a raw brick construction, that have at least two years of hard work left before finished, lives Dagoberto. We are visiting him today to get a first trumpet lesson for Eddie. I don´t know where it comes from but Eddie suddenly decided that he wants to learn how to play trumpet. And so it is.
The rather famous city of Trinidad is, amongst other things, known for beautiful colonial houses and a great music scene. And our mission in this cultural headquarter is to listen to nice beats and learn a little about the handcraft behind the Cuban beats.
The people you meet in the streets
Two days earlier we are going to Casa de la Musica (house of music) in central Cuba to ask for lessons for me and Thomas in bongo drums and trumpet lessons for Eddie. The guy standing in the counter gives us a fairly high price and we decide to think about his offer. We take a stroll down the colonial streets and suddenly we bump into a salsa band sitting on the sidewalk. We start talking to them a little bit and they tell us that they are doing a free concert next door at the maternity house for pregnant women. “Can we also come? we ask” “Yes, yes of course” they reply and show us the way.
Besides listening to a wonderful concert accompanied by some spontaneous salsa dancing we get in touch with two sympathetic musicians Jorge and Dagoberto who both are up for teaching us some drums and trumpet for a very fair price.
Rhum, frittata and a trumpet serenade
So this is the reason we end up in the outskirts of Trinidad, getting to know this talented boxer that changed his path and became a musician. He tells us about his house that he is constructing all by himself and invites us to see his garden. “Here we have mango, over there lemon, in the back of the garden we have guava and this is an avocado tree” he explains. The garden is yet young but in a couple of years this will be a luscious green oasis. Just like most gardens we´ve seen so far in Cuba.
After the grand tour he invites us for rhum and frittata (sort of a crusty omelette with herbs, amazing taste). And then the lesson starts. The trumpets are of course ancient, like most things in Cuba. It looks like one of these instruments that have been played on in famous jazz-scenes in New Orleans during the last century. “It is American” Dagoberto says like he is enhancing my thoughts.
After an hour Eddie is dead tired from practicing blowing into the trumpet. All though not too disappointed that he wasn´t able to make any fashionable sounds this first time. I was afraid that he would give up as soon as he realized what hard work it is, but I was giving him too little credits. He had a very brave first try our amazing 5 year old. We´ll see if the enthusiasm will hang in there as we return to Sweden.
Take the trail next to the trail
As we say good bye I leave Dagobertos place with a special feeling in my stomach. This feeling I´ve had several times during our so far 11 days in Cuba. We´ve met so many great people on our way. People to whom we are strangers, tourists, that come for a short period of time and then leave again. But it doesn´t matter. We are treated like their friends – they help us, share with us, listen to our stories and give of themselves and their hospitality. Maybe it´s the way we travel, day by day and place to place, without nor big plans or goals that make us open to these people and situations. All I can say is that we have been incredible lucky so far. More about our way of travelling in our next blog post.
As for our visit in Trinidad we are happy. It is a beautiful city filled with tourists. Much more than any other place in Cuba we´ve been to so far. But it´s possible to find a path that leads outside the tourist trails. If you are open to it.
Just follow the music.
Last but not least we give you the pleasure of hearing Thomas practicing bongo. Cha cha cha is the name of the beat and our magnificent teacher is Jorge, who started playing bongo when he was three years old. The fashionable sombrero Thomas bought in a market in Trinidad.
No, no. Just kidding ;-), it´s Olivias…