There’s plenty of fun to be had on the road with children in Cuba. Crumbling aquarium visits, strolls through the vibrant streets and long rides in cycle rickshaws. But, more than anything else, we came to Cuba for the music. And the music’s here, everywhere. No street is silent. Mambos and cha chas and son cubano emanates from every nook and cranny. Havana sweats rhythm. And those sounds are what we want Paloma and Romeo to appreciate as much as we do.
Stopping at the Hotel Sevilla in downtown Havana for another refreshing Cuba Libre, a band is playing beside a fountain in the corner of a chequered courtyard. Paloma and Romeo dance and play hide and seek behind the double bass and conga drums. We watch them and when our drinks come we make a toast to the band and throw some coins in a hat that’s passed around. Afterwards, we befriend the guitarist who has the most encouraging name, Jesus, and invites us around to tea. How can we say no to Jesus?
Later, in the modest home of Jesus and his wife and daughter who is slightly younger than Paloma, my husband Ben proposes that Jesus and Paloma record a version of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’. A Bossa Nova, he says. Bossa is not Cuban, but Ben’s obsessed with it and Jesus plays it all the time and agrees. As for Paloma, Twinkle Twinkle is ‘too easy, Mum’.
Within a day or so we’re in the home studio of Carlos, a friend of Jesus, to record the song. Paloma is a little shy at first, but it’s not long until she’s got the whole way through the song and we’re cruising home in another ’59 Chevvy after paying Carlos with a large bottle of vintage Havana Club. It’s gone so well we decide to come back and do a whole album, or at least another song! Ben is already composing an original piece.
So here, for starters, is our 4 yo daughter singing the ‘Twinkle Twinkle Bossa Nova’ we recorded in Old Havana. There’s always fun to be had on the road with your children. You are only ever limited by your imagination.