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Latin America Travel & Tour Information

Que Lastima (Val Murray)

What does the movie ?Almost Famous? have in common with a cigar factory in Cuba? Well nothing, except that I was witness to my favourite ?Almost Famous? scene played out in one. It was that great moment in the movie when everyone was on the tour bus very moody at each other and contemplating the future of the band. Suddenly Elton John?s ?Tiny Dancer? comes on over the bus speakers prompting one band member to break out into song. Eventually the others follow suit until they are all nodding along bellowing the chorus. Everyone is smiling and all knowing that no matter what?s going on outside that moment in their lives, that for the duration of that song they were all friends in the same boat and everything was all right.     


Being marched through the dusty cigar factory in Pinar del Rio looking at the rows of workers rolling layer after layer of tobacco to the exact specifications of the best cigars on earth; I remember wondering what must be going on through the minds of these guys?. Maybe it was just a dull moment in the day because everyone looked solemn either contemplating how much life sucked or maybe they were just in robot mode after making their hundredth ?PURO?  for the day.    


A song comes on the radio without any acknowledgement from the workers until the chorus when a robust lady in the back row just erupts into song emphasising the climax verse: ?QUE LASTIMA?.  These two words seemed to be echoing from her sole as if releasing the frustration of the moment. ?Que lastima? in Spanish means ?what a shame? and these words had meaning enough for another worker a couple of rows up to join in. While these two ladies were going at the lyrics with gusto a girl in the front row bumps the guy next to her urging him with a nod and a smile to join in. He must have been the performer of the group because with recognition of his voice a smile appeared on everyone?s face.     


Within seconds everyone was immersed in the song, the volume of the radio went up, and the whole room was swaying, singing, smiling and laughing to the tune of Que Lastima. It was as if they all found solace in these words and the smell of tobacco lingering in the dusty air, the fact that they were in a tourist zoo, and the repetition of their craft dissolved in that one lyric. They were all in it together in the moment and nothing else mattered at that point of time.      

Or maybe they all just liked that song?

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