Monday, March 23, 2009

el viaje continua!

For all readers of this blog: 

The fun continues on, my world vision wonderblog. 

As soon as I get somewhere with a decent internet connection, there´ll be some videos as well.

dave "thaelmann"

Monday, February 23, 2009

Culture Shock, the lost chapters and Amsterdam antics.

Dearest readers, readerettes and readerinos,

I deeply and humbly apologise for my absence these last few days. Too much to do in Cuba, Amsterdam and Austria alike. And too much informational overflow.

Truly, Cuba is a paradise. After just a few hours in Amsterdam, this is quite obvious. Optical overcharge ensues as my eyes glaze over countless displays, billboards, windows - a cornucopia of purchases, just waiting to be made. At every corner, something or someone yells:
Buy! Consume! Buy some more! Buy me!

I was quite speechless, actually.

Somehow, the hustlers and conners that try to talk to you on the streets of Havanna are much easier to cope with. You see them personally, you get their agenda immediatly, and let them be.

Our wonderfully superfluent european promotional propaganda gets at you from every angle, not giving you a moments rest (unless you buy some), and subconciously imprinting the need for more, much more, lots more, in every mind it comes across. I, for one, prefer the Cuban Style.

Of course, being in Amsterdam, one succumbs to the occasional Koffie in a relaxed ambiente. Was good to see the Wallen again, to enjoy the aromas of this old merchant center... Couldn´t bring myself to film, though... Was too busy relaxing. = ]

And now, the lost Chapters:

Dia 18:¡Perdoname, Cuba!

In Guines at the moment. My little old mind has once again been rotated about a 165º.
Getting to know cuban life from the perspective of a non-tourist is what all those stupid rich white sex tourists really should be doing.
This is the real shit here. People enjoying their lives, having there problems, resolving them with a little help from the Santos, generally having a good time. The kids, the Tataguinitos, party like there´s a good tomorrow waiting for them, just around the next dusty corner.
This is good stuff here, really good stuff.
¡Viva la Revolución!

Dia 19: Morning in Guines
Yesterday, after the performance, the kids of Guines satisfied their (substantial) curiosity. Not at all pestering, the asked politely about Austria, snow, austrian traditions, my family, my marital status, etc..
These 8-12 year olds really managed to stage a quite amazing show (for their age group). The boys on the tambores, the girls dancing the rumba.
Leo´s father is a hijo de Ogún, master of swords, knives, guns and all things metal. The warrior. As strong as the earth, a grudge with Ogún is a very bad thing to have.
There´s a dried bird in a metal pyramid hanging in the courtyard. Probably to drive away bad energies, or to channel good ones.. something like that.

"¡Padrino, sacame esta sal de encima!"
(Popular reggaeton song at the moment. Padrino, please relieve me from this curse)

More lost chapters coming up. Me, I´m in Austria at the moment. Relaxing and preparing for the work to come: Editing and producing a promotional short for the Tataguines, moving my stuff out of my vienna appartment, producing a 3-minute trailer of all the stuff we filmed.. .
And yeah, getting ready for my world tour.

This should be fun.
continue reading and watching this spot for further ramblings, ravings and reviews.
greetings, hugs, kisses (choose as appropriate)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Day 22

hi out there,
our last day here in cuba, we will miss it.
we are already looking foward to austrias snow and cold weather :-)
here some nice pictures taken in the interior.

postcard sunset

cuban propaganda, " Viva la Revolucion"

Reginas new boyfriend "Zorro" a real latin lover.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dia 17, post 2: The team is back!

hi guys,
we are back from the interior.
dont travel alone, try to learn as much spanish as you can and dont waste
your time looking for road signs. there are none. bicyles, horses, cows, sheep, goats, pedestrians, carriages, potholes and a lot of fidel propaganda. One revolutionary signpost for each villager, as a minimum.

So guys, this is an important hint:DO NOT DRIVE AT NIGHT IN CUBA!

The highways, "autopistas", consist of 6 tracks with no road markings whatsoever, and nearly no traffic. Could be beacuse of the moon-style potholes. Very postapocalyptic vistas out there.
Babalugas driving skills were up to the job, however, although he didn´t fuly master the very cuban art of honking before each turn (and at each woman, of course).

Varadero, Varadero, Varadero.
Fat, plump, ugly, disgusting and wholly stuffed with money:
Varaderos tourists are it´s prime attraction (for masochists). We therefore decided to fully enjoy the evening by drinking ourselves senseless on the beach, with a sunset as our guide.

"La Mozart" Habanilla is a wonderful, quiet lake (behind a wonderful, quiet, electricity-producing dam) where we were served "Truchas" in a very rustic ambiente. Sunset included.

The world heritage city of Trinidad is surely one of the most beautiful cities on this planet. We fully enjoyed the sights, touristy tourists that we are, and even scrubbed our behinds on a horse-riding excursion!

Don´t forget the beaches, of course. Ahhhh... turquois water, suave sand and postcard sunsets galore! (And a dead fish. Not on a plate. Different story.)

The centre of Cienfuegos is Fidel´s very own Cubaland! Hint: Don´t drink the mayabe beer. It´s more aptly named "maybe beer", and tastes a lot like excrement.

There´s a crocodile farm out there as well. It´s prime objective is to provide a basis for the reintroduction of a quite vanished species of jumping crocodile. It´s secondary purpose is to provide exclusive reptilian snacks to curious tourists.

So, back in Havanna for a day, and then onwards to Piñar del Rio!
happy holidays,

Story Mr. Haarp, aka Rude Boy. Translation Thaelmann

Dia 17: Call of the Leo, second sneaker and Cuban Cuisine

Ok, we had some misunderstandings, but Leo did respond to my messages.. (after I wrote to his wife in Austria) .. well, I hope things will work out fine..

The nueva vista team is still happily on holidays, so I can´t write anything about them yet.. except that the Leo-story will be my task. No problem there, hey, going solo is what I´m planning for the next 365 days or so.

I wrote a heap of pesudophilosophical stuff yesterday which I won´t publish, you fortunate readers. I will instead post a small writeup about eating in Cuba, again.

Nota Bene:
Cuban restaurants (especially in th "Barrio Chino", Havanna´s Chinatown) that cater to locals generally serve quite huge portions. It is not excpected to share them, however, or to finish them, either. Most guests simply take about 60-80% of their meal home with them. This is not at all rude, and when asked, the personnel will gladly provide microwave-proof containers and bags. Two examples:
"Amigo Viejo" and "La Flor de Loto", the latter being famous for its obscene amounts of deep-fried shrimp.

Probably because of a certain tendency to deep-fry everything, Cubans come in two sizes only: young, slim and athletic or somewhat older and quite obese.

Another peculiarity found in cuban restaurants: The air-con is generally set to "freezing your genitals off". This is, apparently, considered to be a sign of good taste and wealth, so bring a winter jacket or at least a sweater. Otherwise, you´ll find yourself in the somewhat absurd situation to be sweating and sneezing at the same time.

And now, for all those who managed to read this far, the second sneak peek at our precious material! Pot-pourri-style.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dia 15. Connections that won´t connect

Yes, that means you, Leo. The good caribbean Samurai won´t answer my mensajitos, and that´s quite a show-stopper for lots of things.

The reggaeton-street-rapper I wanted to meet yesterday didn´t show up either. The number we have from another rap guy doesn´t exist anymore, etc...

It´s really hard not to get judgemental on their cuban behinds. Defining everything as "cultural" isn´t very helpful either. So, let´s just summarise and say that some cubans don´t care much about keeping appointments, with an especially high percentage in the group of people I´ve met so far.

Otherwise, everything´s perfect. I´m really looking forward to interviewing Ramiro Guerra, the old master of dance, in his high castle. 14 stories with a frequently broken elevator means factual isolation for a person of his age.

The Interview with Aris Garit went quite well, although I´m really a bit over-multi-tasked when interviewing, filming and supervising audio at the same time. I´ll follow Madame Helga´s advice and just f**** the interviewing in my future work.

so far, so few.
the rest of the nueva vista team will arrive tomorrow evening, allowing me to get out of Havanna for a short day or two.

Cheers from the front,
"el loco"

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Dia 15: Malecón Madness, twisted end.

The Malecón on a saturday is just like a festival, but without the stands, outrageous prices and the high-tech stages. Just a whole lot of people, drinking, making out, singing, playing guitar.
Statistical estimates are: about 25-35% are kissing pre-coitally, 60% chugging rum in raw quantities, and the rest are playing guitar or some drums. The better ones of these spontaneous or pre-existing groups can draw as large a crowd as one can reach without amplification.

Don´t forget the lyrics!
Category: Reggaeton from Cuba.
Artist: Chiki, the street rapper:

"No soy famoso, pero la gente me conoce
y no solo es p`arriba que me goce"

(I´m not famous, but the people know me, and it´s not only the upper parts that they enjoy)
Street style reggaeton is basically a two-line joke told in a rythmic and somewhat lyrical way. A central theme is getting away from Cuba.

"El Chikiii...
ya no vive aqui...
se colchó con una yuuumaaa
y se fue pa fueraaaa..."

(Chiki doesn´t live here anymore. He had sex with a foreign girl, and left.)

Applause, laughter, cheering, dancing.

The statistical estimate up there isn´t wholly scientific. There are also large quantities of people sitting around, chatting, smoking or shouting (Apparently, any discussion in Cuba ends in a shouting duel).

Finding a place to sit and jot down some notes is not at all easy, as the Malecón is really as stuffed as Roskilde on Metallica night. (Varying densities included)
You can walk for about half an hour through the crowd without finding a spot that´s large enough to avoid cuddling your neighbors.

There´s another difference to the common european festival: The age groups represented on the Malecón are far broader: Whole families, middle-aged people, whole droves of 12-year olds, herded by the auntie in charge, the obvious adolescents, fishermen around 85, bearded european tourists, and thankfully just a very small quantity of the usual "jinetera and big fat ugly white guy" combination.

It´s strange that nobody there has the idea to go out and buy beers for everybody (charging of course). One could probably make a fortune there with a mobile bar. Either the fines are pretty hefty, or nobody has the capital to start such a small business. The only things sold to the partying Malecón crowd are sweets and flowers for the wooed.

Unfortunately, this wonderful transcultural expedition had a quite brusque end, and a bad one, too. Neilé twisted her ankle while walking over a sidewalk. So, she´s in the hospital, and me with a connection less. (Wanted to film her practicing. Won´t work that well with a plaster foot, I fear.)

As if I hadn´t bombarded you with enough text already, here´s some more:

The colour scheme of Cubas license plates.

Yellow is for "particular" , "privately owned",
Blue is for any state-owned company
Brown is for a state-run institution
Red: the tourist plates from the local humongously expensive rental service
Black: the foreign diplomats

And finally, the highest class:
White. Someone from the extended family, or good friends, of the commandantes.

Concidentially, Neilé hurt her ankle just behind a white plate saying "HGB026".
Get it? HGB. Hagenberg. Like I said, coincidence.

thaelmann out.