Che to the left of me, Fidel to the right...

Che to the left of me, Fidel to the right…

I’ve been travelling for a bit. I lack the discipline to organise my thoughts into blog-length discursive reads, but if you’ll forgive bullet points, here’s where I’ve been. Pictures are on Facebook. One is also here.

Thu 10 Jan: Flew AKL-SYD-DFW. Met a friend in Old Sydneytown and saw the Chinese Garden. Because of flight delays, Qantas put me up in an airport hotel near Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.

Fri 11 Jan: Flew DFW-CUN, got a shuttle from Cancún Airport down to Tulum. (Mexico.) Pottered around Tulum.

Sat 12 Jan: Saw the ruins near Tulum. Went to the beach.

Sun 13 Jan: Went to the beach.

Mon 14 Jan: Bus from Tulum to Cancún, checked into that hotel room I was supposed to use on Thu 10 Jan. Went to Isla Mujeres and the beach thereon. Beautiful. Ate or drank something dodgy that evening.

Tue 15 Jan: Spent most of the night with gastric problems. In the afternoon, flew CUN-HAV. Went straight to the Hotel Sevilla in Havana, Cuba (two nights booked there) and holed up in my room, reluctant to face the world, and with no appetite.

Wed 16 Jan: Wandered La Habana Vieja, struggled to find the bus station, still ate next to nothing.

Thu 17 Jan: Bus from Havana to Santa Clara. Pottered around the town. Spoke German all night at a bar, resulting in the first time my head has ever held three separate languages without any one bleeding into another.

Fri 18 Jan: Pottered around Santa Clara. Went to a subversive rap gig at night.

Sat 19 Jan: Visited the Che Guevara Statue/Mausoleum and the Memorial to the Armoured Train. Jammed with a son band in the street at about 1am.

Sun 20 Jan: Bus from Havana to Trinidad. Pottered around the town. Went to the Casa de la Música at night.

Mon 21 Jan: Day at the beach at Playa Ancón. Met four Canadians who were doing the all-inclusive resort thing, so they fetched me food, beer and coconuts all day. Mean as eh. In the evening, a son band let me sub in on piano for El Cuarto de Tula at Palenque (one of the music clubs).

Tue 22 Jan: Saw some sights in Trinidad. Went to Casa de la Música in the evening.

Wed 23 Jan: Bus from Trinidad to Cienfuegos. Pottered around Cienfuegos and walked to Punta Gorda. Met two huuuge Finnish guys (salesman and petrochemical engineer) and had a conversation about Magnus Lindberg/Kaija Saariaho/Kalevi Aho/Kari Kriikku/Hannu Lintu/Leif Segerstam. One of them had met Leif Segerstam at some random dive bar in suburban Helsinki. Sounds like Leif Segerstam.

Thu 24 Jan: Colectivo taxi from Cienfuegos to Havana. Found my casa particular in Vedado. Wandered much of Vedado. Saw a powerful adaptation of Antigone at Teatro Brecht and got my mind blown by Roberto Fonseca’s band at La Zorra y El Cuervo (jazz club).

Fri 25 Jan: Woke up on little sleep to have breakfast at the time I told my casa owner. Walked through many performing arts venues to find out what was on. Passed through Plaza de la Revolución. Waited an hour to use the internet. Lacked energy to go out at night, even though Havana d’Primera was on at the Casa de la Música in Habana Centro.

Sat 26 Jan: Checked the venue schedule at Casa de la Música Miramar – Los Van Van playing that night, Bamboleo playing the matinée the following day. I knew where I was going to be that night.

Sun 27 Jan: Lazarito Valdés and Bamboleo in the early evening at Casa de la Música Miramar. Lázaro Valdés y Son Jazz late night at La Zorra y El Cuervo. Son and father in the same day.

Mon 28 Jan: Pottered around Vedado. Spent the rest of my Cuban currency on CDs. Tip for the wise: don’t buy CDs anywhere else in Cuba except La Habana Sí (corner of 23 & L, Vedado, Havana). Everywhere else has a tourist trap mark-up on it, and nowhere near the range of La Habana Sí.

Tue 29 Jan: Woke up at 3am to fly HAV-MEX. Got a bus successfully to my hostel. Spent half an hour searching for a place to buy a cardboard tube to post a Cuban artwork back to NZ. Pottered around the Centro Histórico and stumbled into the Torture Museum. Went to the Cathedral.

Wed 30 Jan: Pottered around the Centro Histórico, including the Museo de la Ciudad (free on Wednesdays, just my luck) and the Merced Market. Rode the Metro at peak hour and didn’t have my pockets picked. Wandered to the Zona Rosa for dinner.

Thu 31 Jan: Organised package tour which took in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas, the big Virgin of Guadalupe area, a stone-working workshop in Teotihuacan, and finally the big-ass pyramids at Teotihuacan. Sat down to write this blog post.

Coming up: more meanderings around Mexico City, unsuccessful attempts to find a decent live music gig based on internet research, the delights of Morelia, three whole days of do-nothing at the beach at Ixtapa, and Guadalajara.

Feb 12 I fly to the Seattle Festival of Improv Theater, then down the West Coast. Along the way I see Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Then a vaguely eastward motion until May. Lots of time in Chicago and New York City.

I arrive back in New Zealand on Sunday 19 May.