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Paul Van Ross books Egrem studio in Havana Cuba

August 30.

Today we booked a taxi for Monday, the whole day, in order to pick up all the musicians / instruments and get them to the studio on time. Also to deliver the prepared lunch for 8 people that I am paying for.

Walked to the EGREM studios again (yes – walked, it’s only 5-10min walk from where I’m staying), to finalise deposit and other financial matters. Always good to not be in a hurry in CUBA. This would usually take 5-10 minutes max in Most countries but in Cuba can take Soooooo much longer. (I think we were there over 1 hour)

Luckily I took notes about prices on our last visit to the studio, because it seems there is a fine line between $per hour rates & $per day rates ?? With Patience and perseverance I got the agreed $ per day rates 🙂

Always bring your passport for any official matters!

So, studio 102 @ EGREM is booked for rehearsal Monday & Tuesday. For a rehearsal space it’s huge. The piano is a grand, but is a little honky tonk.

Main recording studio, 101, is booked for Thursday & Friday. It has an enormous main room and three separation booths. Hoping to get 5-6hours recording done on Thursday and then touch-ups on Friday.

Piano tuner booked to spruce up the Steinway in the main room.

Sound engineer booked for all four days. Apparently you still need a sound engineer when you are rehearsing too 😉

My AusPost travel Visa card which I had loaded with Euro dollars to spend in Cuba — DOESN’T WORK HERE!! I’ve tried the ATMs many times, various amounts. And also tried over the counter at Hotel Nacionale. NADA.

Pays (literally) to have a plan B. Now you know why people say Just bring cash to Cuba. Any cash except US dollars (they incur an additional 10% exchange fee – if they’ll exchange them at all).

Still need a pianist for Monday.
Still trying to meet Jose Luis Cortes.

Observations:

– Cuban people get booked by the police for J walking too!
– I forgot how much the fumes from these old American cars stink.
– Cubans generally love a chat, love hanging out, and love making out, wherever they like.

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