I didn’t think we were going to Cuba until two days before we boarded an airplane at Cancun and headed east. “Americans can’t go to Cuba,” I told our missionary host.
Fortunately, he ignored me and we went. Four days were spent in Havana before we drove across the island to the mountains at the east end.
On our first night in Havana, we went to a fancy restaurant where waitresses wore black dresses, white aprons and white caps. Like old-fashioned maids. Glittering crystal adorned each table with heavy silverware resting on starched napkins at each place setting.
And a pianist filled the air with sweet music.
When he saw us, he recognized us as Americans. Americans are rich in Cuba. No matter what money we had.
So he immediately began playing tunes by Frank Sinatra. Cuba seems lodged in the 1950’s and the musician must have assumed that Sinatra melodies would net him a nice tip from the Americans.
Emboldened by his strong Sinatra performance, the pianist then approached our table. “I know many other American songs,” he said. “What would you like to hear?”
My husband leaned toward him. “Could you play Amazing Grace?”
The man frowned slightly as he searched his memory banks. He finally shook his head. “I do not know that one.”
We smiled at each other and then my husband surrendered. “How about some Sinatra?”
“Oh, yes, sir!” The pianist scurried back to the piano and played instead I Did It My Way.