Cultural life in Havana is very good and there is always enough things going on to please anybody. Beyond that there is always spontaneity and good music and parties to be joined. Cubans are an educated bunch and they put culture way up on the list and they all love to chat!
I actually enjoy watching Cuban TV and we have felt no desire to try to get cable or satelite. Firstly there are no adverts. Can you imagine what a pleasure that is!! In Guatemala I was forced to watch more adverts on cable TV than actual programming. It was something that I resented a lot. Here I have to deal with a few Cuban public service announcements, which I usually find either entertaining or interesting and they never interrupt a good film. To name a few ……the one about how to get rid of bugs in your house and fumigation. The one about how you shouldn’t use public transport when you are drunk and leery and others involving manners and how to respect your fellow Cubans. Endless tributes to Jose Marti and the heroes of the revolution, and actually relatively little on Fidel. Emotional pleas to free the Cuban 5, imprisoned in the US without a proper trial and many more, short exerts about beautiful parts of Cuba you should visit etc etc …….
The programming is pretty good. I enjoy the many discussion shows on art and literature and social topics. Interviews with interesting Cuban and visiting Latin personalities. The famous Mesa Redonda (the round table) tends to be more national social, geopolitical or economic discussion so I can’t say I sit watching that too much but Rafa tunes in from time to time.
Last night I watched a discussion about being a single parent on another chat show (this one is triangular) hosted by somebody who works at the film school. Interesting and good for my Spanish! I watch Cuban news, which is not bad for such an apparently isolated country, they cover more international topics than in Guatemala. I have seen many good films, independent, foreign language (although can be tricky reading Spanish subtitles whilst listening to Bollywood Indian or German science documentaries) and also a handful of better Hollywood films. Such US things as CSI, Private Practice, Seinfeld and White Collar have appeared too.
International sports events that Cubans take part in are pretty well covered. When we arrived we had international athletics, the Panamerican games from Guadalajara, and lots of baseball which Rafa likes to dip into although I still haven’t got a clue what they are up to. It seems to me like the epitome of male narcisism. The way the pose and wiggle before every move like preening peacocks twitching and pulling at the tight pants in a jerky dancy fashion.
Also it goes without saying that you can watch an awful lot of good music from all over the world as well as Cuban. On Sunday I watched Adele playing live at the Royal Albert Hall. A week before I watched an amazing performance by the Cuban Symphony orchestra outside in a beautiful square possibly in Havana. All the musicians were pretty good looking which can’t help but add to the experience! And the children’s TV on the, what appears to be legitimately pirate channel of MV is a great mixture of BBC, Discovery kids and a bit of Mexican TV but blissfully advert free. So my children don’t spend half their time saying Mummy I want that and that and that for my next Birthday/Christmas!
I have been able to take the children to see 4 wonderfully professionally produced plays, last week was a French musical organised for the week of francophonie in Vedado. I took the boys to a pyjama story time party at their school. We took them to see two Dutch films during the week of Dutch cinema. All this is without even checking the ads in the paper. Not a week goes by without some country having a week of their independent cinema. I made it to a couple in British Cinema week, next week is Iran. I have been invited to Norwegian, Belgian , Canadian, Brazilian, Danish … and oh so many other film weeks that I can’t remember. I have never had to check the listing page of any newspapers in Rafa’s position we tend to get invited to most things.
As always, I do want to check out more music nights though, it is just finding the time and the energy!
Oh yes, and the Pope arrived last week for a flying visit to Havana and Santiago. Can’t say I would have been rushing down and fighting the crowds for that particular event. But I am happy for all the Cuban catholics who were terribly excited! And that he persuaded Fidel that Good Friday should be a holiday in Cuba!
My next two posts will be my attempts at reviewing all the wonderful independent cinema that I am able to watch and access. So get ready for my reviews on some great films from Cuba, South America, Spain and UK.