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.


– 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.





Havana update

August 28.

Today, we had plans to meet to great Cuban Flutist, Jose Luis Cortes. Due to his busy recording schedule this week it was postponed.

After having a well earned sleep in, I spent a few hours over brunch practising my Spanish with Jacinto’s wife and the maid. We had many laughs And thanks to my handy phrase book I even managed to tell a few stories in broken Spanish 🙂

Afterwards I went in search of an ATM and spent the next 3 hours walking around Havana. I’m sure I lost a few kgs. ATM’s didn’t like my Visa card (Aus post travel card), and reject every amount of $ I tried to withdraw. It seems that the banks have monopolised a 3% commission on all ATM withdrawals. So withdrawing $800 CUC will incur a USD$24 fee.

Plan B is to try at the counter in Hotel Nacional. Tomorrow.

Bought a map of Havana.

Tomorrow I meet at noon with the band for my recording to discuss arrangements and plans.

The man that runs my casa particular (B&B) spends a LOT of time watching TV.
Cuban woman have attitude a la
Today I was asked in sequence….
“Hello my friend…..
Where are you from…..
You want two Cuban woman….?”