Friday, July 27, 2012

A light goes out in Vinales, Pinar del Rio, Cuba

Sometimes a light goes out on the other side of the world and you feel that the whole world just got a little bit darker. On the 21st of June in Vinales , Pinar del Rio province about 2 hours drive from La Habana a light went out.

Vinales is a beautiful little village surrounded by many fields where hardworking tobacco farmers toil tending fields of domestic tobacco. The village is in a stunning valley which comes straight from central casting; think 'The Land Time Forgot' or 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'. If it wasn't for the "little local difficulty" I am sure Hollywood would flock there.

Dawn over the Vinales valley
In the centre of town is Casa Dago with half an imposing portico, a hang over from a divorce where each party got half the premises. Out back the ever smiling proprietor would dispense drinks, manage food orders and pick up his guitar at the every possible opportunity to entertain the clientele with sad ballads or Cuban sing alongs all the while dispensing mojitos and happiness.

I probably only spent three or four evenings in this crazy Cuban back room bar but they're all memorable.

I took my whole family there 18 months ago and Dago sensed my wife's concern at the cage rabbit by the door, disappeared. for two minutes and then called her over to see the ' dish of the day' sign he had rapidly run up. Just as quickly the rabbit was hidden away, joke over, move on.

The next day we spent on the beach with Dago in fine form and I have great memories of singing and dancing as the sun went down. Some locals wanted to know if he was Grandfather to my kids, they had grown so close to this happy, charming ray of sunshine even though neither spoke the others language. He noted my son's ability on the drums and early the next morning organised a young local drummer to come over to give him a lesson in Cuban rhythms. Life isn't easy in Cuba but you never saw that, a sight of the real world for my kids and one that left a lasting impression in the world of pap tv and Facebook.

Dago was a young heart and a bright light. My kids have lost their 'Cuban Grandfather', who had "great hair!" and the world is a darker place for his passing. It will be hard to light up the nights (and days) in Vinales in the same way again.

(Pictures 2 & 3 - Toby Brocklehurst, pinched from his Facebook page without permission but I’m sure he won’t mind)


Dunia said...

21 july, not june.
Dago is my father.
Thank for this post.
It's beautifull.

Nic Wing said...

Dunia, I am sorry for your loss, your Father was a wonderful man. I hope to meet you one day in Cuba.