You may remember my post from a while ago about the odd things that make foreign travel so entertaining. If you missed it, here it is.
I was chatting to a friend the other day about this topic, and a couple of things sprang to mind. Both happened in Cuba.
My wife and I were in a bar when we were approached by a pair of hookers. Being in the company of another woman doesn’t deter the average hooker, I’ve found. But there was a wrinkle here.
So we were approached by two hookers. Unusual, but not unheard of. However, what we had here was a pair of identical twins. Very unusual, I suspect. Never happened to me/us before, I have to say.
However, I had never been approached by a hooker who is a dwarf, let alone a pair of identical twin dwarfs (or dwarves as Tolkien would have it.) That’s a first. And, as it happens, remains the only time that has happened.
Now something truly surreal. As a tourist in a restaurant in Cuba, the chances are that you’ll get a bunch of strolling troubadours with a couple of guitars and some maracas, intent on serenading ‘The beeyotifullll senorina.’
I realise everybody needs to earn a living, but the repertoire is strictly limited, and there is a distinct point at which you think, ‘If I hear sodding Guantanamera just one more sodding time, I’ll be moved to violence.’ This is not a good idea; the Cuban prison system is notoriously harsh. But it’s one of those things where you might just think it would be worth 10 years breaking rocks.
Having dinner. Enter troubadours, who made a beeline for us. Now even though the singing can be an irritant, the standard of musicianship is high. So when they rocked up, I made air guitar movements, smiled, and gave a cheery thumbs up. Then I made a zipping motion across my mouth, pressed my lips firmly together, and shook my head. ‘Play, but don’t sing.’
The trio had a brief muttered discussion, and I could see light suddenly dawn.
They then broke into a melody that was utterly haunting, but my wife and I looked at each other and said, ‘I know this. What is it?’
We pondered for a bit, then we got it.
It was an acoustic guitar version of the theme music from the film The Piano.