If you are going to be in Cuba on December 31st this year then you are in for a treat. There is not a improved time of year to knowledge Cuban culture and glean a sense of its persons. But what must you count on? Will it be drastically distinctive to how you generally celebrate NYE?
Properly, if you are utilized to excellent dwelling-cooked meals about a loved ones table, followed by fireworks, loud music, dancing and copious amounts of alcohol, then no, it possibly will not.
Cuba might be anti-Christmas but when it comes to New Year’s Eve the island enters complete-on celebration mode.
Initially of all, the conventional NYE meal does not definitely differ as well considerably from the Christmas Eve menu an unconventional loved ones may well have chicken or turkey alternatively of the ubiquitous pork, but that is usually as far as it goes. Beer – either Crystal or Bucanero – red wine and rum are the staples when it comes to drinking, and champagne is not specifically price-successful or simple to get hold of so a sparkling wine is normally reserved for midnight toasts.
A lot of Cuban households supposedly pour bucketfuls of water from their balconies as a sort of ‘exorcism’ ritual. Not in the sense that their homes are possessed, but extra to do with expelling the terrible of the year gone by and producing area for the excellent to come. But we didn’t see any such tradition.
When mealtime is more than, the celebration inevitably spills onto the streets. Every single central plaza fills up with locals and vacationers alike, open-air bars and clubs draw in masses of youngsters, and spectacular fireworks displays rain down on the larger cities.
Havana’s NYE fireworks are especially impressive. Apparently…
We’d wanted to be in Havana for New Year’s Eve but the dates didn’t perform for us. Our strategy B had been to stay in Trinidad and danced salsa all evening at the Casa de la Música, which would have been amazing, but that would have meant staying there a complete week during a three-week trip. Also extended.
So we decided to ring in 2016 in Santa Clara, the city famously captured by Che Guevara and his guerrillas on January 1st 1959 – the day of the Cuban Revolution. This was the pivotal moment that led to the complete conquest of the country and the cause why the Che Guevara Mausoleum, exactly where Che’s remains are kept, was constructed there.
We’d had the chance to discover the city for two days ahead of NYE, locating time to pay a visit to the Mausoleum, the train Guevara derailed and Mirador El Capiro – the lookout point of the city exactly where a bronze monument stands.
But I digress.
New Year’s Eve in Santa Clara
New Year’s Eve in Santa Clara was a fairly specific knowledge. Initially of all we’d had a lobster dinner (upon request) on our casa’s rooftop terrace. Though I am no lobster connoisseur I’d say it was up there with the greatest dinners I’ve had – surely the greatest in Cuba! This was followed by some reside music (the casa’s decorator and his mate have been fine stand-ins for the pre-arranged band) and fervid salsa dancing. Here’s a tiny video I created (please excuse my occasional and bitterly out-of-tune contributions):
As the only gringo prepared to join in the entertaining, I was passed among all the more than-60s females, of which there have been at least four, to please the crowd. It is fair to say I wasn’t up to typical but they all seemed to relish the knowledge. This guy. Such a charmer.
Later we headed to the central plaza with the decorator (who wasn’t wearing overalls by the way) and his mate to ring in the new year. It was heaving, and smacked of the classic botellón atmosphere I’d noticed so several instances ahead of in Granada, Spain.
We have been every single armed with a pre-mixed 1L bottle of Havana Club 7-year (so inexpensive it is untrue) and coke. It was two minutes to midnight and we have been prepared to toast 2015 and a prosperous, improved 2016 (oh how tiny did we know…)
If only we’d taken up position someplace much less sheltered.
As the clock struck midnight there was a sudden outbreak of fireworks – as you’d count on. But what we’d failed to realise was the throng of birds quietly cheeping in the trees above us.
So you can think about what occurred subsequent.
Yes, though a spectacular fireworks show rained down on Havana, we have been becoming showered in bird shit in Santa Clara. These birds have been actually scared shitless. And my ear and freshly washed, ironed shirt suffered the consequences.
My shoulder was covered with a substantial black smudge of what was unmistakably bird shit. Everybody discovered it hilarious of course, which I’ll admit it sort of was. Our Cuban good friends insisted it was excellent luck, if not a excellent sign of factors to come in the year ahead.
As 2016 draws to a close I discover myself questioning that logic.
But anyway… I ran back to the casa, changed my shirt and rejoined the group. Crisis averted. We spent the rest of the evening in an open-air club exactly where we could get a 2L bottle of Havana Club 7yr, a 2L bottle of coke and two fat cigars for $15. I shit you not.
They may well have been terrible cigars – and the music was undoubtedly terrible – but we didn’t care. This was specifically how we’d intended to commit New Year’s Eve in Cuba.
Will you be spending New Year’s Eve in Cuba this year? Was this post beneficial? Share or leave a comment! 🙂