About Cuba, I read someplace:
In this country there is no gasoline, but cars are all over the road
There’s no food, but everybody is cooking dinner
There's no money, but everybody is dancing and drinking rum
Cuba is in a huge state of transition. There is a sense of true hope among the wonderful Cuban people after the hard life of the “Special Period in Time of Peace” of the 1990's (withdrawal of Soviet subsidies). The twin curses of dictatorial communism and the American trade policy hopefully will change. As American politicians debate the end of a foolishly prolonged Embargo, tourism from the States was up almost 20% last year even with the visitation barriers still in place. Seeing the US Embassy in such barricaded isolation on the Malecon, which is a framed seaside walkway, truly brought home just how sad our foreign relationship has been.
In the early part of January, I was thrilled to travel to Havana and Vinales as part of a People to People license, organized by the Rochester Institute of Technology Photography School. Needless to say, my travelling companions comprised of many talented and accomplished photographers ranging from academic, professional and amateur. Everyone always willing to share images, ideas and techniques. It was a pleasure to be traveling with that level of talent.
My trip lasted six (6) days (and nights) in Havana, which was just not enough. The music, the art, the culture is so vibrant and a part of everyday life here. As Cuba is known for its vintage cars - they are still everywhere, running on pure Cuban ingenuity (as is everything in Cuba). I had a couple of opportunities to be driven around in “classic” style. Some of the cars are in better shape than others, but you end up not really minding as the experience trumps the comfort! The Cuban architecture is a fascinating mix of neo-colonial and art deco and for some odd reason they blend well together. Some painted, most you will see not (recently anyway). Some standing. Some not. The City is truly trapped in a time capsule. The Cuban people live their lives with what they have and appear to always have a smile on their face.
It goes without saying that this is an unbelievably rich photography location. Some of the fantastic surprises during the trip were encountering a local choir of neighborhood children singing “Hey Jude” while we were touring the Art-Factory, young boxers training at the Rafael Trejo Boxing Club, fantastic street scenes on Calle Obispo, a building under rudimentary construction in the Old Havana, and The Art Market by the railroad terminal, which houses hundreds of original paintings, photos and local crafts. You can't help but fall in love with the street scenes, the architecture and the cars.
Even though our days were filled with sites, my husband and I managed to dive into the music scene as well. The music clubs are great. The styles of music that became our favorite were Cuba casino and salsa. One in particular venue was a very diverse, triple show at El Gato Tuerto – starting with modern fusion, three members of the National Opera and finishing off with fantastic salsa band. Opera in a bar! Phenomenal! Where else could you get that?
Please enjoy the album documenting my fabulous adventure/excursion to Cuba! I hope you like them. If you have the desire to see for yourself - my advice – go to Cuba as soon as you can before it changes forever.