Sometime during the night, in addition to my cold,
my right eye started to hurt. OK, a head cold and an eye infection.
No problem. I can handle this. When I woke up, I was leaking not
only from my nose (think of a river in springtime, rising to the
flood banks), but my eye was pouring out a stream of tears. My daily
ration of one small roll of toilet paper was soon depleted. I had
broken my cardinal third world travel rule of always tossing a roll
or two of toilet paper into the suitcase.
I headed up to the Habana Libre and saw the hotel
doctor. She diagnosed the eye as a scratch on the cornea, not an
infection, and the tearing was aggravating the nose dripping. She
put some ointment and antibiotics in my eye and some drops to dilate
the pupil. She started assembling a small device that looked exactly
like those little blowtorches that chefs use to caramelize creme
brulé. For a minute I though she was going to cauterize
my eye or something, but it was a small light so she could examine
She put a bandage over the eye and told me to
leave it there until the morning. Wonderful. Now I can wander about
Habana with snot streaming out of my nose and a garish white bandage
plastered across my face. ¡Que guapo! I had been joking
with my friends that the Cuban girls were so pretty that they were
breaking my eyes. Now I had proof.
I had planned to go over to Bellita's house for
a visit, but I needed rest. I called her and she advised me to drink
lots of fluids and take some lime. Later, I told her that this advice
made me feel much better. That night at La Zorra I took some lime,
some sugar, some mint leaves, a little rum, some soda water: ah,
a mojito! Good drink for a cold.
I wandered around Vedado for a bit, but I really
had no energy, so I spent most of the day either resting or practicing.
There were no Timba shows this night. Unfortunately, the Tropical
has discontinued its Monday night series that was happening the
last time I was here.
I had a lesson scheduled with Pupy, or at least,
I thought I did. I had spoken with him on the phone the day before,
and he said to come down to the Egrem studio at four o'clock Monday
afternoon. My Cuban-style Spanish is bad, but it's especially bad
over the phone, where I am deprived of the gestures, facial expressions
and miming that helps tranlate for me. I arrived at the studio around
five, to find that the session was over, and everyone had gone.
Pupy had told me that the session would be over at four and that's
when he could give me a lesson, but I had thought he was telling
me that the session started at four. Arrggh. No lesson with
Pupy today. The guy at the studio told me that Pupy would be mixing
in the morning, so I planned on heading back then.
That night I went back to La Zorra Y El Cuervo
and sat in with Peruchín Jr and his group again. Big fun.
The drummer, Santiago and I connected really well. It was so much
fun to play with him.
Elena, one of the cocktail waitress who has worked
there for five years took me around the room and showed me the pictures
of famous musicians who have played there and told me stories about
memorable nights, such as when Wynton Marsalis came by. Jimmy Branly
was on drums that night, and there is also an 8 x 10 of Jimmy hanging
in the club. The Capitán told me that when Jimmy came back
for a visit last winter, he was down at La Zorra about twenty times.
They all love the guy there. ¿Y como no?
I faded before the night was over and headed home
early. A little rest and I would be cool in the morning to resume
the frenetic pace of trying to cram everything into two short weeks.
| next: ¿donde está Pupy?