In November 2017 me and my brother Adrian went on a trip through Cuba. The perfect conditions to search for new sounds for the 5th installment of the ProducerOnTheRun series: The Cuban Drum Kit.
Our trip started in Frankfurt/Main and after about 10,5 hours we arrived in Cuba’s capital city: Havana. From the airport we took a shuttle to our first AirBnB in the middle of La Habana Vieja (spanish for Old Havana) located at the old square called Plaza Vieja.
The first night we were pretty lucky to meet some locals who showed us several cool Paladres where we enjoyed the best Mojitos ever!
As a tourist it can be challenging to find these local spots as Havana is full of tourist traps.
After a short night the next day startet at 7:30 in the morning. After a quick breakfast with cuban coffee (which is f*cking amazing!), scrambled eggs and some fruits we tried to catch a cab which should be harder then we thought.
As a lot of cubans barely speak english, and we didn’t speak spanish at all our first attempts failed miserably!
Finally we were able to catch an old chevy which brought us to Cayo Levisa. The ride to the offshore island west of Havana should take about 4,5 hours - for 62 miles! The roads are in really bad condition cluttered with potholes! For the last miles we took the ferry. But all troubles were rewarded by the beauty of this secluded island.
We spent the following days at the beach, enjoyed the turquoise blue water and recharged a little bit. After three days on Cayo Levisa we took the ferry back to the main island.
Our next destination was Viñales. Since the opening of Cuba to tourism Viñales has become the most visited place in the province. For the first time since we arrived on Cuba we found a Wifi hotspot. The rest of the night we spent with cervesas and Wifi at the Plaza Jose Marti.
The next day we decided to visit a cave nearby called Cueva del Indio where we recorded a couple of claps, snaps and shouts. After that we headed back to Havana. Later that night we went out for dinner at the legendary restaurant La Guarida.
The food, service and location were simply amazing and definitely worth visiting. We didn’t had such good food since we arrived on Cuba.
After a small breakfast we went on a sightseeing trip through Havana. The city has an overwhelming charm which fascinated us more and more. Later we discovered the wild nightlife of Havana with lots of mojitos, cigars and salsa.
About 2 hours south of Havana you’ll find one of the two dream beaches in the legendary Bay of Pigs: Playa Larga. We found a nice little casa near the beach with even nicer hosts, spent the day at the beach and faded away with mojitos and live music. The next two days we ate lots of seafood, relaxed at the beach and our local friend Ramon took us to several cool spots like the Cueva de las Peaches (which was the perfect place for snorkeling) and a local salsa party.
After two days we moved on to Cienfuegos. Due to its beauty the city is called „the pearl of the south“. We had a delicious lunch in a cozy restaurant at the bay and decided to spend the rest of the day at the beach Rancho Luna. Back in Cienfuegos we had the pleasure to meet Miguel Alvarez, the olympic heavyweight boxing gold medal winner from 1972, who brought us to his favourite restaurant where we had a great time with lamb skewers and mojitos.
The next day we headed towards Varadero which is about 120 km east of Havana. It is also the closest point to the USA. We found a nice apartment with a terrace next to the beach and recovered from our exciting trip. We enjoyed our last days in Varadero with lots of sunshine, beautiful beaches and amazing food!
Worn and still gorgeous, run down and full of dignity, cheerful and sometimes very frustrating - Cuba is surrounded by an aura, that can hardly be put into words. Its beautiful people are proud, positive and full of hope for a brighter future!
After 3 weeks in Cuba we returned to Germany with great impressions and stunning audio recordings!
Link to the kit: ProducersOnTheRun Vol. V: The Cuban Drum Kit
Photo edits: Philipp Levinger
Additional writing: SVRN