Even the flight into Havana on Air Cubana is surreal, other-wordly. It's not just that you're on board a Russian-built lluyshin, a sliver of silver thinner than any American jetliner. It's the “fog.” The air-conditioning system is so antiquated, it shoots these wreaths of ghostlike mist into the cabin. You feel as if you're floating, inside a cloud.
It was the music of Buena Vista Social Club that recently brought the island of Cuba, an island that for most Americans had been shrouded in mystery and myth for more than 40 years, back into the cultural spotlight. What began as a labor of love for director Wim Wenders and producer Ry Cooder touched an emotional chord so profoundly in its audiences, that the film assumed a life all its own. In resurrecting international careers for great unknown musicians like Ibrahim Ferrer and Compay Segundo, it inspired an irresistible longing on the part of many who saw it, not just to sit there and listen, but to get up and go there — to experience whatever passion had produced this stupendously sad but sensuous and joyous sound that is Cuba.