The 3 days post Lajas, post New Year's Eve, back in L' habana,for me were basically frustrating and lost. Nothing flowed.
I'm not one to sit still. I deplore waiting and because we'd arrived late, on a cold, grey and rainy winter's day, the meetings that I'd arranged had to be postponed. Also, I hadn't counted on the fact that the week after NYE, just like in Australia everything kind of shuts down. A lot of the shops ( tiendas ) are out of stock on many items such as onions, large cartons of fruit juice and beer, and many people are out of town visiting family and friends.
On my return, Maribel told me that she'd been invited to spend NYE at Carlos's house
( Neida's boyfriend ) and that they'd eaten pig on a spit, something which little, Jewish me simply loves, Crackling....Mmmmmm....something also that Yovany had promised me back in Lajas. But the pig we'd eaten in Lajas was not cooked on a spit, ( damn it ) it had been cooked in pots, because they'd run out of time. So I'd missed out on the Spitpig. Any way, you can't be in two places at once, although I've always tried to be.
The next couple of days are now a bit of a blur but I did manage to achieve something spectacular. With Carlos's help I actually scored an interview/meeting with world famous and Cuba's Shirley Bassey/ Liza Minelli / Barbara Streisand, ROSITA FORNEZ, at her gorgeous house in Miramar. Rosita is now 90 yrs old and was a friend and music associate of my father Dan.
I was not allowed to film, but was allowed to take photos.
Carlos accompanied me to her house. We caught one of those old cars ( carro particular ) and paid 2 cucs ( $2 ) for a 20 kilometre ride, just the two of us. Ridiculously cheap. After getting a bit lost and having the driver drop us off at 5p.m in the wrong street, we approached a well appointed house and asked the security guard at the gate, who sat in a small guard house if he knew where Rosita lived. He did, and showed us where to go. We doubled back,turned the corner and found her house. Two dogs came running and barking to the gate, one beautiful big white one and a little black one. The housemaid showed us in, and there to greet us was the still radiant, classy and elegant, Sans cosmetic surgery, Rosita Fornez. She walked using a frame.
She sat us down in her gorgeous lounge room. Beautiful paintings and photos hung on the walls. The place was spotless and smelled of Jasmine. The couches and furniture reminded me of that of my parents'. It was Art Deco style and well maintained. She certainly had a sophisticated style and taste. She lived like a queen. She had coffee brought to me as I showed her the photos on my ipad, which I had of her, in her hay day with my father at L' ATELIER ( my father's club ). When she saw the first one she exclaimed " Aaaah Yes....I remember your dad, how handsome he was, I remember that night, it was a big party,...look, there is my husband too, Armando Bianchi, he too was a famous actor....". Then she sighed whimsically and deeply.
Casually i began to interview her. She told us about her enchanted public life and how the greatest love she ever felt was the love of her fans, not only in Cuba, but in all of Latin America and Europe. Then she spoke of her private life, her two marriages, her children and grand children. She took us into her drawing room which was literally covered with photos of her, spanning 4 generations of her illustrious career. Many trophies and awards adorned her shelves. She was great full and proud of what she'd achieved in her life.
She told me how whenever she went out people would still be excited to see her, how she was still celebrated and on many occasions asked by producers to do presentations and appearances at events and on TV, but that these days she would gracefully decline their offers. These days, she said that she was content in simply enjoying a quieter life and the joys of her large family and grand children.
She asked me whether my father was still alive. She even remembered my mother Litzi and how beautiful she'd been, and asked after her as well.
I told her that Dan had died a few years back and that my mother had died 17 years ago.
She told me how she'd once really enjoyed my father's piano playing and frequenting his club after doing her shows. She sighed deeply again....and then suddenly perked up, smiling, remembering one time when she'd eaten one of my mother's splendiferous cakes.
A spent calmness filled the room.
It was time to go.
Both Carlos and I were great full and mindful of her age.
And then she said, " Before you go, come and have a look at the cabana and pool area.
As I looked out onto the blue pool and luscious garden I imagined her as a younger Rosita, a Bon vivant, sharing sunsets and Cuba Libres with her husband Armando, with my father, my mother and others. I snapped back into the present.
At the front door she said " So now you know where I live, you're always welcome here." Then we kissed her goodbye
It was now 7p.m and dark. Carlos and I walked out into the quiet suburban street. It was starting to rain and we had to find cover or transport quickly. Carlos started praying for it not to bucket down as it normally does here. I thought that child psychology would work better with god, so I prayed for rain. We started to hitchhike and a few minutes later we climbed on and into the back of an open truck. I sat on a tyre and Carlos crouched down. Ominous, black, thunder clouds rained down on us as we hung on to the railing laughing and laughing. The driver dropped us off at the main thoroughfare and we caught a car back home.
These are the shades of Cuba.
Nothing is ever really lost.
Things were just flowing differently, that's all.
Tomorrow I go into the studio for two days to record two of my songs with my band,
" FRENTE CALIENTE " , " HOT FRONT ". I really hope everything flows smoothly !
some...not all of the amazing photos of Rosita.
imagined pool parties at Rosita's house
a day at the beach....Just for me.
looking confused at the beach...thinking about and hoping that recording goes well tomorrow and Friday.
FRENTE CALIENTE....HOT FRONT.
FRENTE CALIENTE...HARD BUT ENJOYING THE SLOG.
some Rosita FORNEZ photos of old in her drawing room
Rosita around the house....just a tease.
visions of the past by the pool
a day to myself....so I can stress relaxedly