Cultural places in Caribbean
Baseball, or as Cubans call it béisbol, is considered the national sport in Cuba and they are pretty damn good at it. They won Olympic gold in '92,'96,'04 and silver in '00,'08. Going to a baseball game is dirt cheap (1 MN peso, about 4 cents USD) and it is a fun, non-touristy, thing to do. Food stalls are lined up outside the stadium while bags of nuts, popcorn and pork sandwiches are sold by passing vendors inside. Smartly dressed teenagers patrol the walkways in a seeming attempt to impress the opposite sex, not giving a hoot about the game. Find a seat in the shade, lean back and enjoy... Oh, remember to throw back the ball if you happen to catch it, souvenir baseballs don't exist in Cuba.
Though not as naughty as in Brazil or as big as in Trinidad, the carnival in Dominican Republic is still a spectacular. Carnival groups, each with their own theme, dance or march down the street to Latino rhythms in impressive costumes. At the biggest events in Santo Domingo and La Vega some of groups have floats, though most just dance in some kind of formation. Normally the carnival is held on three consecutive Sundays, normally in February, where the last one is the biggest, boldest, and most crazy.
When you think of Caribbean music, and more specificaly of Trinidad and Tobago, you think steel pans and steel drums. They play a large role in T&T culture and its carnival, which is one of the world's largest.
The development of these musical instruments originates from slavery times when slaves were forbidden to use their percussion instruments. In the 1930s, the African community used different objects such as metal plates, cooking pots and oil barrels, until it developed into the instruments that are being used now.
Although steel pans and drums nowadays are fabricated musical instruments, they still look like dented oil cans where the different dents are different tones. The smaller the oil can the higher the tone. The steel drums have the size of full oil cans while the pans are up to roughly 30 cm tall.
It is a joy to listen to the cheerful sounds produced by these bands!