Cuba

Havana’s Colorful Streets and “Happy Souls”

For the avid traveler and photographer, Havana is a wonderland, a source of 24/7 inspiration that goes beyond the brightly colored, decaying facades and a seemingly inexhaustible fleet of vintage automobiles. There is a rich history and warm, inviting locales who welcome travelers with genuine interest, broad smiles and a palpable desire to connect.

Vintage cars going down the Paseo de Marti in Havana Cuba

It rained a lot when I was in Cuba but now and then the sun would peek out and bring the buildings to life! – On the Paseo de Marti

For a week I explored the streets, the homes and Cuba’s vastly diverse culture with my fellow photography lovers who, like me, joined the Santa Fe Photographic WorkshopsSeeing Cuba: Discovering the Culture and People of Cuba program, led by pro photographer, Jennifer Spelman. (Full disclosure: I was an invited guest but the writing and sentiment are completely my own)

Fisherman along the Malecon in Havana Cuba

Every morning along the Malecón, you’ll find fisherman doing their thing.

A week wasn’t nearly enough time. It was a whetting of an appetite I didn’t even know I had. I understood at the end of our journey why more than a few people in my group returned after having visited last year.

Our workshop included outings to nearby towns such as Bejucal, where we took portraits in the rain, and hung out with fisherman at a marina in Cojimar. We photographed dancers from the Cuban National Ballet take class and met lovely people along the way: An old couple that serenaded me and a wonderful old woman named Maria Therésa who invited us into her home. Of course we perused the markets, learned what to do and not to do, ate local specialties, enjoyed more than a few mojitos, but nothing tickled my fancy more than wandering the streets of Havana.

An gorgeous door, one of many in Havana

This is just one of the many worn but gorgeous doors throughout Havana.

Dawn Patrol 

Our days began with an optional predawn walk, aptly named Dawn Patrol. Jennifer was joined by Jorgé Gavilondo, a very talented Cuban photographer who, before retiring, was the country’s leading cancer researcher. (How wild is that?) We’d meet in the lobby raring to go—albeit bleary-eyed—and roam together with the freedom to break off when the desire struck us before meeting back at the hotel for breakfast and the first group outing.

In the dark the narrow streets seemed maze-like but the city turned out to be an easily navigable grid. We were in a prime location at the Parqué Central Hotel which provided easy access to both Old and Central Havana. Popular destinations like the Malecón (an esplanade and seawall that’s a favorite for local fisherman and provides a great view of the 16th century fort Castillo De Los Tres Reyes Del Morro across the channel), Plaza Viela, Plaza de San Francisco de Asis and Plaza des Armas, were all within easy walking distance.

Vintage auto in Havana Cuba with family inside

My first shot on my first Dawn Patrol in Old Havana

As a whole our group was rather large, so we’d break into small teams to roam the city. Twins, Eduardo and Orlando Garcia and Jorgé’s son, Pepé Gavilondo, all great photographers in their own right, would lead along with Jorgé and Jennifer and take us to their favorite streets, haunts and hot spots, depending on what we wanted to see.

Once we got our bearings we had time to explore Havana on our own. I found both scenarios were valuable. While photographing in a pack (no matter how small) can be frustrating, it can also open your eyes to how other people perceive the same thing, inspiring new ways to approach a subject. Besides, it’s always fun to share a discovery with new friends.

Small manicurist station in a tiny room in Old Havana, Cuba

Cubans are incredibly resourceful and make the most of what they had. This manicurist’s “shop” was the size of a phone booth.

Wandering on my own 

I also loved wandering on my own, and because, overall, Havana is very safe (which is counter intuitive in today’s world but the truth nonetheless ) I felt comfortable exploring day and night, following no particular route. I let instinct and a mental toss of the coin dictate my path.

As I meandered along, Cubans of all ages, shapes and sizes would ask “De qué país eres,” What country are you from?

“Estados Unidos” (Two of the six words I know in Spanish)

“United States?!”

“Si” (number three)

“State? What State you from?”

“New York, I live in New York City.”

“Man HATTEN! My son lives in the Bronx. Do you know the Bronx? Have you seen the Brooklyn Bridge?”

Kid running after a soccer ball in Old Havana, Cuba

Battered and half inflated, this soccer ball was still loads of fun

And that’s how relationships began, bonding over popular New York landmarks or the list of family and friends who had moved to the States. More often than not the conversation would lead to a street corner portrait. The Cubans were incredibly friendly, “Happy Souls” as one friend put it, wonderfully curious and eager to express their enthusiasm for America.

The people I met on the side streets spoke broken English at best but that it was far better than my nonexistent Spanish. Charades became an essential part of my repertoire. Locals who worked in tourist areas such as the plazas, hotels, popular restaurants and the like, spoke English more fluently.

Street scene in Old Havana, Cuba

One of the many colorful scenes in Havana, – Old Havana

Havana: An architectural rainbow

Visually, the city is rich with color and texture beyond anything I’ve experienced before. Remnants of stately mansions with elaborate moldings, marble fixtures, stained glass, soaring ceilings and sweeping staircases, spoke of an opulent history and cultural decadence that with the lack of resources has deteriorated over the last 50 years, but miraculously is still home to a vibrant community whose resourcefulness is exemplary. Much of Havana is living, breathing ruin porn.

Cat on bar stool in Old Havana

A ragged bar stool for a ragged cat. – Old Havana

In fact there was so much to see I was overwhelmed with choices and had to force myself to slow down. Even after seven days I felt the pressure to capture as much as possible even though my gut told me to take my time. Part of the rush was the ever-present cloud of change washing over the country and my limited time to enjoy it.

A little Cuban history

Under Raul Castro’s leadership, citizens are now allowed to start private businesses, own and sell their own homes, and benefit from aspects of capitalism that were non-existent before. Coupled with the effects of the relaxed travel requirements between the U.S. and Cuba (hotel rooms are booked through 2017), a new Cuba is taking shape. Most of the locals I spoke to seemed excited about the possibilities for prosperity in the wake of all the changes, but they’re equally apprehensive as to effects progress will have on the core values and the traditions that are responsible for the deep sense of community and love of country that is at the foundation of Cuban culture.

Large waves hit the seawall of the Malécon

Crazy winds knocks waves against the Malécon.

Selfishly, I wish I could put the country back into its time capsule until I had the time to return and fully drink in the Cuba that is now before evolution takes hold. I remember wondering as I watched hordes from a cruise ship walk down O’Reilly Street, how much time it would take to change Cuba irrevocably.

I fear it will not be long.

An old woman smoking a cigar in Havana, Cuba

A tad cliché, the old woman with a cigar in Cuba, but I couldn’t resist. – Central Havana

Man selling pineapples in Central Havana at Sunrise in Cuba

At sunrise, a man sells pineapples to the residents in Central Havana. You’ll find a lot of mobile street vendors selling everything from bread to mops. They roam the streets, calling to the people in their homes, inviting them to come out and buy their wares.

Photographer Jorge GavilondoPhotographer Jorge Gavilondo

Jorgé Gavilondo, a true renaissance man. A famous Cuban cancer research scientist, awesome photographer and funny as hell. –Central Havana

The lighthouse near the 16th century fort Castillo De Los Tres Reyes Del Morro in Cuba

During Snowmagedden in the Northeast of the United States, high winds caused huge waves to splash over the seawall at the Malecón. The lighthouse next to the 16th century fort, Castillo De Los Tres Reyes Del Morro, took a real beating on the other side of the channel. –Malécon

El Floridita bar in Havana, Cuba

At the end of Obispo Street where it intersects with the The National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana in Old Havana. It’s famous for its daiquiris (they’re a bit pricey) and the fact that it was one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite haunts. (Taken through a bus window)

Female photographers taking a Santa Fe Workshop in Cuba

Some of my fellow travelers and photographers during a break exploring Central Havana: (left>right) Jennifer Spelman, Carrie McCarthy, Donna Marchese Kross, Donna Aceto, Dianne DeLorenzo.

Cubans dancing Rumba in Central Havana, Cuba

I love moments like this. You turn a corner and there are people dancing rumba! – Central Havana

Woman in doorway in Central Havana

This lovely woman was opening the door when I happened to be walking by. I raised my camera and looked at her: the universal sign for “Can I take your picture?” She put that sweet grin on her face and posed. Loved her. –Central Havana

A corner reflection of Old Havana in Cuba

A corner reflected in Old Havana.

Two young boys pose for a photograph in Havana, Cuba

The peace sign: A classic Cuban response to a request for a photograph. – Old Havana

A small fruit and vegetable stand in Central Havana, Cuba

The owner of this fruit and vegetable stand was very kind and let me in his stand shoot for at least 10 minutes. Afterward he gave me one of the best bananas I’ve ever tasted. – Central Havana

Decaying building in Central Havana, Cuba

Cuba has free, high-quality education and healthcare, but it also has a housing crisis. Though the roof has fallen in some places, there were still families living in this building in Central Havana.

Man sitting on a stoop in Havana, Cuba

Another wonderful, interesting face attached to a delightful man who didn’t mind my camera in his face. – Central Havana

Man sells bread at dawn in Central Havana

Just after sunrise, this man pushes his bread cart through Central Havana yelling “Fresh bread here..” Residents would come out and buy what they needed.

A view of Central Havana from the roof of the Parque Central Hotel

A view of Central Havana and the ocean from the roof of the Parqué Central Hotel. Mansions once single-family homes were subdivided years ago to house as many as 40 families at a time.

Dashing portrait of an older man in Havana, Cuba

I saw this man and thought, Man, I bet he was so handsome when he was young. Heck, he is dashing now!

I saw this man and thought, Man, what a dashing fellow! –on Paseo de Marti

onion vendor in Havana, Cuba

One of many vendors that wheeled their vegetables or other products through the streets selling their goods to the people. – Central Havana

Workers take a break in Havana, Cuba

During a brief break, after laying down pipe in the road, these workers offered their help with a quick photograph. – Old Havana

Young girls practicing dance on a street in Havana

Young girls practice dance routines on the sidewalk. – Old Havana

Men play dominos in an abandoned lot in Central Havana

In Cuba, men love to pass the time playing dominoes. – Central Havana

man, woman and child on a street in Havana, Cuba

A family portrait: Grandpa, Grandma and an adorable munchkin with a new-found balloon. – Old Havana

Woman standing in front of her flower shop in Havana, Cuba

Just couldn’t resist this. – Central Havana

Building and people in Havana, Cuba

What was once an incredibly ornate building slowly falls to disrepair

What was once an incredibly ornate building (it kind of reminds me of the Ansonia in NYC)  slowly falls to disrepair and yet is home dozens upon dozens of families. – Old Havana

John and his girlfriend Eva in Havana, Cuba

This young man struck up a conversation with me as I walked towards Plaza Armas. He was going to University to study languages –he already spoke three – and wanted to learn two more so that he could get a job as a high-end tour guide. – Old Havana

Wing-tipped shoes in Havana, Cuba

The heavily polished wing-tipped shoes of a man playing the trumpet near Plaza des Armes – a more touristy destination. – Old Havana

Artist and his drawings near Plaza de San Francisco de Asis

Cuba is known for its artists. This one finishes one work while displaying his others for passersby near Plaza de San Francisco de Asis. – Old Havana

People walking in front of a yellow wall in Havana, Cuba

A wall I sat in front for over an hour capturing a variety of panning and blurred images for my apartment. – Old Havana

Antique camera in Plaza des Armas

One of several antique cameras being sold in the market in Plaza des Armas. While there are many tourists about, you’ll also find some great old watches, cameras, military insignia and photos here. – Old Havana

Man looking down from a window in old Havana

An “Hola” from above in Old Havana.

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I saw this man as I was walking down Amagura Street. His posture, meek and reserved, caught my eye first and then I saw those wonderful light eyes. He was a very sweet man.– Old Havana


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A wonderful photo essay taken in Havana, Cuba
~Taken while an invited guest of the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops’: Seeing Cuba: Discovering the Culture and People of Cuba: Words and sentiment are my own.

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310 replies »

  1. Your photos have inspired me for our upcoming trip to Cuba. I’m still uncomfortable taking photos of people but these people all seemed quite willing. Did you give them a gift or tip after you took the photos?

  2. Your portraits knocked my socks off! Love your eye. Cliché or not, the image of the lady with the cigar caused the first smile on my face this morning (lubed by a good cup of coffee) and my smile grew wider upon your last photo of the man with the light in his eyes. My daughter had an experience in Cuba, touring with the Northwestern College symphonic band, arriving just at the time that Hugo Chavez died. All public musical performances were banned, so she was free to wander (with her chums), meet folks (and practice her Spanish), visit the water, and generally get acquainted. One of her art projects on return was a streetscape she created on a large canvas, recalling the colors of Havana streets. I think she’d return. Enough. Loved your images.

    • Thank you very very much and thank you for the very thoughtful comment. I love hearing about other people’s experiences in places I’ve traveled. Do you have a picture of her streetscape?

  3. Your photos are fantastic! I was in Elizabeth Opalenik’s Santa Fe workshop in Havana in April and you have captured the beauty and emotion I experienced there. Hope to return there soon; just now posting my photos from April!

    • It’s an amazing place. I am not familiar with Elizabeth’s work. What is her signature? Did you stay in Havana and the surrounding area or did you go farther out? Did you work with Jorge and the other Cuban photographers?

      • Elizabeth is a fine arts photographer, specializing in antrchnique called mordancage. The workshop was focused on dance, so we shot the national ballet, 3 afro cuban companies and a flamenco group. Jorge was on our trip (he’s great), along with Orlando and Claudia. The trip was limited to Havana, which was fine, but I’m planning to go back in December to see the east!

      • That sounds great. I met Claudia on one day bit we mainly stayed with Pepe, Jorge, Orlando and Eduardo. So great that you’re going back so soon. I’m trying to get there in Fall. Hoping I will.

  4. Great…really great. Ultra crisp and clear shots. Not to mention superb composition. My hat’s off and I bow.

  5. You know what!? Wow! How fun and colorful, exciting. I can’t be there but sooo want to visit. Thank goodness relations are improving. It’s about time and thanks for the tour and great shots. Lovely stuff!!

  6. Hi there, Ive just had a 5 minute scan and feel like I have been to Havana. The clarity and everydayness of your pictures speaks volumes. Thank you for letting me ride on the camera lens!

  7. You are a great photographer! I have never been to Cuba but with those photos you shared your adventure and I feel like thanking you for uploading them. All of them tell different stories and I think it’s incredible the way you captured them. It’s really a great work!

  8. This is a fantastic blog! Such amazing photos and so atmospheric! I was lucky enough to visit Cuba a few years ago and even recognise where some of your photos were taken! Thank you for sharing these photos!

  9. Not sure what was more picturesque, the photos or your writing. The Lord has surely blessed you. The more I see of Cuba, the more I become convinced that simplicity is how man was meant to live. Having said this, I hate, loathe and despise all manners of government. If the Cuban people were truly free and left to their own devices and, more importantly, had not had their possessions stolen from them by tyrants and low-life criminals, it would have been interesting to see what would’ve been possible for these marvelous people. And God only knows what it would be like for all people world-wide, were governments were non-existent. Viva la revolución!

    Bill

  10. Your photographs are INCREDIBLE! And a lovely story too, what a spectacular trip. I hope to get to Cuba in the near future too. Too many places on my bucket list, too little time!

  11. What fantastic shots. You have such talent. Many of the images here made me feel melancholy, seeing such beautiful architecture left to decay with age. But there is a kind of truth to this way of living that we are sometimes all too quick to remove. Whitewashing over graffiti, smoothing over weathered edges and throwing out broken furniture, to attempt to restore the false, shrink-wrapped veil over reality. Removing any facet of uncomfortable vulgarity has left us intolerant and allergic.

    • Beautifully said, Randy. I have mixed feelings about Cuba’s future and completely from a selfish perspective. I love the look of Cuba right now, but I also realize that the lack of infrastructure, resources and funding makes their life incredibly hard on a day-to-day basis. I wish there was a way to keep that world as photogenic but not as hard on everyone. Unfortunately, I don’t see that as a possibility. I can’t imagine Cuba “restored”.

    • Hey Nicole.. Your kind words make me very happy. My hope is to inspire people to travel and to connect with their destinations and the people who live there. I’m glad that my post gave you more things to think about. I hope you return to the blog. 🙂

  12. Dear Susan, I’ve joined this blog site yesterday when I made my first short story…I can’t describe you how happy I am to read your post about Cuba as my first. I was so thrilled! Still looking at all of this photos and descriptions. There was a moment with tears of happines in my eyes… Thank you bringig your story like this – emotional, real, supreme…
    Regards,
    Dušan from Seychelles

  13. Yes, beautifully photographed and nicely written. The lady with the cigar may well be slightly cliched, but it is really fantastic nonetheless! Well done 🙂

    • Aww.. thank you. If you should ever like to purchase a photo let me know. Otherwise, I’m thrilled you like them in the blog. Thank you for letting me know. Welcome to The Insatiable Traveler, I hope you return.

  14. One of the best travel blogs that i have read so far. Photographs are very well composed and sets the right mood. The candid moments captured are worth appreciation.. well done Susan.. keep up the good work.

  15. Beautiful snaps. I can check them over and over. I really like the creativity employed on each photo. Especially the one of the sun set. Can’t get eough of your work…

  16. I feel like I was right there with you! Thanks for making your readers part of your tour through your amazing photos and beautiful description! God bless🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏

  17. Love ur story about Cuba.I live in Canada and we have always had access to the island nation from Canada.Many friends have been on vacation and thought it was paradise.Do u have a pulse on the political and social situation there

    • Yes… they are very particular about keeping things neat and clean where they can. They have great pride in their country, it’s just that money, resources and the infrastructure to keep the buildings up to snuff are hard to come by..

  18. These are gorgeous photos. You’ve captured Havana brilliantly. I visited myself in September last year, and I loved it. Such a passionate place, and the people are so connected. Made me smile seeing it brought to life in your photos 🙂

  19. These are beautiful images of Havana. Beyond the many colors, I see a city of personality among the buildings, culture and people. My favorite photo, though, is of the cat on the bar stool (it might have something to do with being a cat lady). I’ll be back to view more of your posts and photos…you’re an excellent photographer.

  20. The way you embraced their culture in Cuba and talked and interacted with them was great. I enjoyed that you added the conversations with them into this post. Beautiful photos! Sounds like your trip was life-changing in great ways 🙂
    GREAT JOB
    -Shayne

  21. I stumbled on your blog as I was doing some background research for a photo book I am putting together after our recent two weeks in Cuba. I thoroughly enjoyed your Havana shots – so many of the places and personalities you captured made me feel like I was back on the Havana streets. I appreciate the simplicity and focus on one “topic” in each photo and found my head nodding in agreement as I viewed them and read your comments.
    Wishing you a speedy return to this fascinating country.

  22. I get a big slap in my face with one of your photos, it was the cat photo, looks pretty simple and full of meaning. So I started to wonder who is this person, what is the magic behind the lens, them I wake up and my jaw fell to the ground after seeing your magnificent work of Havana. The perfect capture and portrait it reality was delicious, so I spend the last half hour forgetting about work and looking at your website.

    I feel overwhelm with you way of choosing themes and your post production is out of this world what you show us as the final product is beyond what I had saw so far. Congratulations with your work and please can you give me any hint to learn how to obtain such a quality final photos, there is art every were in your website.

    I live in Cuba and finding your photos of my country and city makes me reboot and started all over again.

    Sincerely you #1 photography fan from Cuba

    Rey

    • Thank you so very much for your very kind words. I am thrilled that you like my photos of Havana, especially because you live there. You’d know whether I was able to capture it well or not. I wish I could have stayed longer and hope to return soon. Wishing you all the best.. 🙂

  23. These are stunning! Looks like it was a great trip with many interesting characters. Love that shot of the (Ansonia-esque) building.

  24. Applause. Applause. Great post Susan. Your narration is so well written. That and your off-the-charts excellent pix are on show here, producing insight, wisdom and, for me, some startling nuggets of new information. Charming. My compliments.

    If I had a way of taking my jitney with me, I’d get to Cuba in the blink of an eye. I’ve driven ‘Out West’, and to Florida, Maine and the Maritimes and most recently to Alaska. I write a travel blog of my own, posting daily while on the road. It’s two blogsites actually: petesbigadventure.wordpress.com and peeweesbigadventure.wordpress.com. But it’s really the same blog; I changed the name of the latter to the former because I got tired of explaining that I’m not the Peewee often thought of when seeing the latter. Couldn’t see a way to do that without starting a new blogsite. In any case each time I set out on a trip, I invite over a hundred friends and family to ride shotgun with me in my two-seater. I enjoy having a number of them ‘following’ the blog. Like you do (and I also admire that), I respond to each of the comments that come in.

    But I’d like to do whatever it takes to amp up my readership. So if you would please, have a look at both Peewees Big Adventure and Pete’s Big Adventure. If you could give me some tips on how to attract more readers, I’d be much obliged.

    BTW I admit to lifting the pix off the internet to illustrate my last post (Cleveland). But most of the photos in previous posts are my own. I’ve learned along the way that photos go a long way to convey feelings and emotions that I’m at the time experiencing. Sadly my pix fail to capture what the magnificence of the vistas and the stunning enormity of the mountains and landforms; what they really look like up close and personal. They pale in comparison to yours. Your photos do in fact capture the real deal. They do convey what you’re feeling, seeing and experiencing. Nice job of it Susan. I’m a fan. Keep it coming.

    Pete .

    • Hi Pete – I’m in the middle of a couple of deadlines and a contracting nightmare due to a water leak. It’s all I can do to keep on schedule with my own posts and work at the moment. Can you give me a couple weeks and then remind me to look at your sites? Thanks a million.

  25. I Love how the colors of Havana jump out with cheery abandon. Glad to hear you could safely walk alone. I sympathize with the people as they enter a new era of capitalism and hope they manage the change gracefully plus hang on to their culture. I understand your desire to go back in time here, but you have superbly documented it for now. Your photos of the people in their places are provocative. The portraits are breathtaking. Now I want to go today, no, yesterday.

    • It was quite interesting just how safe Havana was. Is. It’s a bit counter intuitive. You’d think that a country that struggles on a day-to-day basis would lie in wait for travelers–it certainly happens in other countries–but not in Cuba. They are a wonderfully kind group of people. So glad you liked the images. Thank you.

  26. Wonderful pictures! They remind me so much of my trip to Havana. I can almost smell and feel what it was like (it was a relief everytime we went to the Malecon – fresh air!!!). This city is unique and so, so beautiful. Thank you for sharing your work 🙂

  27. An absolutely fantastic set of images that really captures the essence of the place and it’s people. I think we have a similar kind of photographic eye, in that the subjects and compositions you’ve chosen are similar to the sorts of things that I try to look for too…..a good mix of street, architecture, people and above all quirky details/still life shots that really get to the cultural heart of the location. I think you are perhaps a little bolder than myself in asking for portrait shots though…..most of mine tend to be quite candid often when the subject is unaware that I’m taking the shot. I love the image of the boy running after the man and the elderly lady smoking the cigar…….I hope you didn’t inhale though….;0). This has been quite an inspirational set of images to browse through, so thanks for sharing Susan.

  28. Wonderful job!!! It will be interesting to see how Havana changes from the unspoiled images you have taken. Rick Steves is down there this week. It is only a matter of time before it is over run with tourists. The Cruise ships will start soon and the innocence of the isolated people will be tattered with the fresh influx of tourism dollars. My hope is that the people of Cuba can hold onto their culture and not let money destroy the beauty of old Havana. Hopefully the money will be used for restoration and preservation. Only time will tell.

    Thanks Susan for sharing your adventures,
    John

    • Couldn’t have said it better myself John. I too hope they can find a balance between progress and maintaining their traditional culture. I’m really happy you liked the piece, thank you. More to come!

  29. After going through this post, I honestly felt as if I had visited Havana myself (which I never have), the photos are deep, meaningful, educational, they carry with them the weight of culture, history, and most of all beautifully depict life, thank you and take care.

    • I am thrilled that you got so much out of the post. That is always my hope and I am so grateful for you letting me know that it touched you. Please return, I’m just getting started with Cuba. 🙂

  30. Oh my. I am astonished at the beauty of the faces. You are a gifted photographer, and I love your perspective about things. You have made this a desired destination ten times over with your commentary and photos.

    • Thank you, Carla! My hope is to inspire people to explore the world and travel more. I think it’s essential for maintaining a level head in our global culture. Many thanks for your kind words.

  31. Nicely done, Susan. An excellent portfolio of how Havana looks today. As one who has watched Cuba over the years, however, I can’t help hoping that some of the great beauty it once had can be restored without losing the important gains in literacy and public health.

    • I hear you Robin, it would be glorious to see those buildings restored. But what to do with the thousands of families that live in them now? They went from single family mansions to arbitrarily subdivided apartments for 40+ families. The housing crisis there is at its peak. I so admire aspects of their society: the literacy rate that trumps ours, free, quality education and healthcare, but they’ll have to raise those properties to make way for buildings that can support multiple dwelling and I don’t imagine they have the resources to do that. I think it’s only a matter of time with a few buildings restored and preserved for “historical” purposes. My romanticism wants the city to be preserved at its photogenic best, but pragmatically I know that Havana, at least, will have to change drastically for the quality of life to improve.

      I have a few more posts that will be specific to particular experiences, spending time in people’s homes is one of them. It’s not pretty for some, yet the Cubans have such a deep love for their country. Rarely did I hear them complain.

  32. Hi Susan,

    I’m so happy for you that you were able to go on another fantastic journey and come back to share your exceptional photos! The colors are beautiful, so richly saturated. Did you use a filter, or is it due to the rain and light? Having received a new camera for our upcoming Africa trip….I need to get busy and practice using it!

    ~Whitney

    • Yes, the cloudy skies and rain helped instead of the sun bleaching out the colors. It’s also tweaking in processing with a tiny bit of saturation and some contrast which is necessary because I shoot RAW. So glad you liked the piece.

      I’m very excited for your adventure. When are you going again?

      • Yes, I remember sending you to Linda but misunderstood from your last comment that you were leaving imminently so I got confused. Can’t wait to hear all about it when you get back! Definitely play with the new camera before you go. You don’t want to learn in the fly when I the bush. Your bound to miss something

  33. Oh Susan, what an amazing eye, sensibility, and perception you have. Your images are magnificent. They are the images of someone with a Cuban soul, not someone who is on Havana for the first time. I adore them! Brava!

  34. Wise words Francis. For the people of Cuba, this progress will be important and perhaps it’s inevitable that the culture itself will have to evolve in the process. As an outsider, a traveler and a romantic, I would love for it to remain but I recognize that that is a completely selfish wish. 🙂

  35. Quite a journey!!! Exploring a world that is going to (fortunately for the wealth of citizens) to vanish in time. I understand them, I born in a poor part in my country, now that things are better I don’t miss the bad old days, and our culture has not been smashed, just we have changed to another form of our culture. Everything is going to be fine.

    • Elen, you are so kind. Thank you for checking out the post. I had such a good time shooting in Havana, I really didn’t get enough.

      I was searching around Plaza de Armas hoping to find old images from the city’s heyday but never found them. I would give anything to see how they looked brand new and decorated.

  36. Every single photo was incredible, Susan! I could just tell from the images – even before I read the words – that you had found Cuba to be an incredibly inspirational place. Thank you for sharing your photographs and your perspective.

  37. I was there 3 years ago with Santa Fe – your pictures make my soul smile (and brought back a flood of memories).
    Jorgé Gavilondo was one of my groups local photographers. He is an amazing person on all levels – I fell in love with him, it was so nice to see his pic in your collection.

    • Hi Deborah! I think Jorge has amassed himself quite a following. He’s a lovely man and worth all kinds of praise. In the picture you saw, he and I were riffing on his satirical request for 2 CUCs for the pleasure of his posing. He’s so funny. I’m glad the post brought back some great memories. Thanks for letting me know. Please share if you can. 🙂

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