Havana, Cuba – Not What I Expected and Much More

Havana, Cuba – Not What I Expected and Much More

Since having visited Havana in the late 1950’s, just before the Revolution, I’ve had an interest and curiosity of the city and Cuba ever since. Travelerlynne and I had the opportunity to visit Cuba recently for a few days on a People to People cultural exchange. Havana was not at all what I expected in some ways and far exceeded my expectations in most ways.

While many of the city’s grand old buildings are badly deteriorated, the city itself is busy and vibrant.

Havana, Cuba

Havana and Cuba-3

Havana and Cuba-4

Havana, Cuba

Traffic is heavy and the ubiquitous Yank Tanks, classic US cars, amazingly, continue to roll on like the sands of time, thanks to the ingenuity of the Cuban people. A metaphor of Cuba itself.

Havana and Cuba-2

Havana and Cuba-6

Havana and Cuba-7

Havana Yank Tanks

Havana '57 Chevy

These cars found their way to Cuba during the 1950’s when the post war prosperity pervaded the US and its tiny island neighbor to the south. Cuba was a playground for wealthy Americans and life was good for them, though not so for most Cubans. This all ended in 1960 with the US embargo against Cuba. Since then, these American turned Cuban cars are kept running because of their owner’s repair skills and inventiveness. Spare parts from Russian and Chinese cars, trucks, and farm machinery are often adapted to the Yank Tanks.

Havana Car Repair

The people we met along the way made our brief visit most memorable. They are warm, friendly and welcoming. They love their country and are eager to share their stories. While life is still not easy for most, it is much improved in recent years. It seems that while almost everyone has relatives living overseas, especially in the US, most have no desire to join them. In fact, some we met had lived elsewhere and returned “home.”

Havana and Cuba-12

Havana and Cuba-13

Havana and Cuba-15

Warm and Friendly Cuban People

There is a rhythm to Cuba. A hot, vibrant Salsa beat. And you hear it everywhere. Every neighborhood, every car radio, every restaurant. But the musical heart and soul of Cuba is Rumba; percussive rhythms, song, and dance. Traditions brought by slaves from Africa. Rumba means party and Cubans know how to party. We were treated to a rooftop rumba in the heart of Havana by a local group of musicians, singers, and dancers. It was a blast. The group was incredibly talented, the afternoon hot and perfect, and the setting surreal. For me, the highlight of the trip.

Havana and Cuba-18

Havana and Cuba-17

Havana Rumba

The countryside of Cuba is beautiful. Heading west to Vinales the terrain is at first rolling hills and then low mountains. The foliage is tropical, of course, and temperatures a little cooler than Havana. This is one of the main tobacco growing regions for Cuba’s famous cigars. We spend an afternoon in Vinales, a sleepy little town of friendly people, watching cigars being made, sipping rum, and listening to, what else, a salsa band.

Havana and Cuba-19

Cuban Tobacco and Cigars

Cuban Tobacco and Cigars

Vinales. Cuba

Vinales, Cuba

A visit to Havana would not be complete without spending an evening under the stars at the world renown Tropicana cabaret and nightclub. The high energy, over-the-top show starts at 10PM and lasts to well past midnight. The Las Diosas de Carne (Flesh Goddesses), as the showgirls are known, are barely clad in sequins and feathers. The Tropicana opened in 1939 and has been going strong ever since, reaching its most outlandish in the late 1950s just before the Revolution. Nonetheless, it is not to be missed. Did I mention, a bottle of Havana Club rum comes with the price of admission?

Tropicana, Havana

Tropicana, Havana

Tropicana, Havana

As you may have gathered, Cuba is a land of contrasts. The people are friendly and eager to share their stories. They love their country but wish they had more opportunities. Havana is a vibrant, beautiful city but stuck in the 1950s. The architecture is grand and elegant, but often buildings are crumbling. Shops are few and poorly stocked. Western influence is almost non existent. No Starbucks, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Target, Walmart, etc., yet everyone seems to find what they need and are generally optimistic.

Havana, Mangoes

As I said, Cuba was not what I expected, but more than I expected.

Further posts about Cuba are coming up. If you would like to be notified by email of new posts just click on the “Follow” tab at the lower right of this page.

Related article: Looking Beyond Crumbling ~ Havana.

Ron Mayhew

Fine Art Photographer specializing in Still Life and Commercial Photography.

This Post Has 255 Comments

  1. Truly wonderful post Ron – just loved ALL of the photos. Hard to choose a favorite but the opening shot is a stunner!!

    1. As always, thank you Tina, my friend. I am glad you enjoyed the post.

  2. i loved this post as well! so far the opening shot hasn’t loaded, so i look forward to later tonight when the internet service improves. i love the two images of that old bulding, the stairs, the history in its peeling walls, etc. there’s another photo where the car dominates the image.. that’s really nice as well! the rumba on the roof – yes, i can understand why that would be a great memory!

    1. LIsa, Havana certainly was beautiful in its heyday and is beautiful today, but in a much different way.

  3. Great post! Cuba fascinates me; so good to me able to see it through your posts.

    1. Thanks Angeline. I am so glad you enjoyed the post. Cuba IS a fascinating place.

  4. Yes, this is a fantastic post, Ron. The photographs are terrific, embued with the vibrancy and colour of the people and their simple – rhythnmic – way of life, and we’re able to see a cross section of Cuba today – such a treat and far from the usual ‘resort’ photos mostly available to us. Can’t choose a favourite really, though perhaps the first, for its wonderful perspective of the waves and the buildings, and i adore those peeling old stairways and lobbys – so grungy, so retro/romantic! But it’s up on that roottop I’d like to be, dancing … 🙂

    1. Meredith, thank you so much. Your comment are always right on. And yes, we ALL were dancing before the afternoon passed.

  5. I hope that one day I can see Cuba for myself until then I will have to satisfy my curiosity by viewing the images of others. I love the compositions and the colors you have so skillfully captured in these images. Thanks for sharing them with us.

    1. Thanks Nick. I am sure you will get there before long. I enjoy you Linkedin updates.

  6. Steeling my thunder (I returned from Cuba on Friday and have started my postings today!), but what a way to do it! Some amazing images here – and Tropicana summed up beautifully too! 😀

    1. Thank you. I hope you enjoyed you trip as much as we did ours. So many photo possibilities. Thanks for visiting.

  7. Reblogged this on ckponderings and commented:
    Some images that I am sure will put my coming posts to shame… Hasta la victoria siempre!

    1. Thank you so much for reblogging and you kind comment.

  8. Fabulous images Ron! Every single one. Makes me want to pack my bags NOW 🙂

    1. Manhu, I hope you will. I am sure you wouldn’t be disappointed. Thanks for your comment.

      1. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed Ron. Well deserved. But then every one of your posts are 🙂

  9. You’ve taken me right there with your wonderful images, Ron. Thanks for that. Will be returning for another look to take it all in. 🙂

    1. Thanks Tripodtrippin. I look forward to seeing you again. 🙂

  10. Dear Ron…
    I really enjoyed this post…Pics are great, and you have been able to see happiness, rythm and warm inside cuban´s hearts…Every person I know that has been there comes back with the same feeling…I really envy you…I would love to see it by myself…

    1. Thank you for your kind comment. Indeed, it is a lovely place with wonderful people. I do hope you will be able to see it all for yourself.

  11. Ron & Lynne,
    The photos are fabulous. Cuba is nothing like what I expected! I want to go right now to the Tropitcania to Dance the Rumba……..
    Have a couple Rum Drinks……..Mmmmmmm, sounds wonderful after seeing your fabulous photo’s. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I think I saw a mermaid swimming in my mojito! Thanks for visiting. You must be liking your new computer.

  12. Outstanding work. Makes me want to just pick up the camera and head south.

    1. Thanks Jack, for you encouraging comment. You should go.

  13. Fabulous photos! I believe my favorite is the crashing waves, too, But, close contenders would be the portrait of the grinning old man and the Rooftop Rumba shots that follow..Love that swirling blue skirt!

    1. Paula, thank you for your kind comment. The malecon with the crashing waves seems to be a favorite. We missed you guys.

  14. Hey Ron, As a new member of the pine Island club I thank you for sharing these . I look forward to getting to know you and sharing photo thought. Andy Bergsten

    1. Hi Andy. Thank you for commenting and look forward to meeting you.

  15. Ron, your shots are simply spectacular. But obviously only part of the credit goes to the camera and lens. You, my friend, are a very fine photographer!

    1. Thank you Herb, for your king comment. I am glad to liked the images.

  16. Ron; wonderful pictures. I really enjoyed them, several times ,and especially like your comments. What a variety of photos but especially fun to see the cars and how amazing they look! Thanks for showing them – now I am anxious to see more!!

    1. Thanks Mickey. I am happy you enjoyed it and am glad you found your way here. 🙂

  17. Can’t wait to do Pho and here all about Cuba.

    1. Thanks. We are looking forward to it too. 🙂

  18. Great shots Ron!! You got stuff up so fast….I better get on it!

    1. Thank you Ralph. As the say, “no rest for the weary!”

  19. It seems several of us have been to Cuba lately!! 😀

    1. Thanks Helen. Hope you enjoyed your experience as much as we did.

  20. Outstanding photography. You got to the heart of the people. You travel with magic! Hope to visit myself some day. It’s been my dream to see the island.

    1. Linda, thanks for your lovely comment. I hope you get the chance to visit Cuba. The country is changing rapidly and quickly loosing much of its “Old Cuba charm.”

  21. Fabulous photos, Ron. I love the one of the guy in the hat in the red car. Very cool. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much my friend. The guy you mentioned was a perfect match with his ’57 Chevy convertible, and he knew it. 🙂

  22. Ron, these photos are stunning!! You’re an amazing photographer. I love how Cuba is stuck in time from the 1950s. The old cars, colorful crumbling buildings, bright colors, lively citizens ~ all these are what I would expect to see in Cuba and you have captured its essence perfectly. What is this cultural program called? Do you have a link for it? I would love to look into going on this trip before Western influence creeps in! 🙂

  23. Yes, Cuba is stuck in the ’50s, but is changing rapidly. There are a lot of opportunities for Americans to travel to Cuba. Try Googling “cultural exchange travel Cuba.” Thanks Cathy, for your wonderful comments. I am glad you have enjoyed Lynne’s and my posts on Cuba. There is much more to come.

  24. Nice work. I liked the portraits and the shots of the interiors. Nice feel to the images. What did you shoot with, what gear did you take with you?

    1. Thank you Paul. I use the Panasonic Lumix GH3 and two lenses. I plan to write about my photo gear in some detail in a future post.

  25. Vos photos de Cuba sont magnifiquement touchantes, malgré leurs difficultés existentielles, les cubains sont un peuple adorable, bravo pour ce beau témoignage Ron

    1. Thank you Carlos for your encouraging comment. Yes, the Cubans are delightful people.

  26. Wonderful photo exposé of a land trapped in time!

    1. Thanks Drake. Yes, Cuba is trapped in time but things are changing quickly.

  27. Muy buenas y muy ilustrativas tus fotografías

    1. Thank you Nicoramos. I appreciate your compliment.

  28. Wonderful series here.

    1. Thanks Warren. There is much more about Cuba to come!

  29. Great gallery… two thumbs up, Ron… 😀

    1. Thanks Bams. Coming from you that is a real compliment!

  30. What a great collection of photos, Ron! You did a wonderful job capturing the vibrancy and local flavor of the town! My favorites (though I loved them all!) were the first one and the cigars with the hands rolling them.

    1. Thank you Neely. I so appreciate your work so your comment means all the more. Surprisingly, the cigar maker image is more popular than I would have thought.

  31. Absolutely gorgeous pictures. I was there a year ago, but you captured it soooo much better.

    1. Thank you so much Sally. I am sure your photos are fantastic. Sometimes we are our our worst critic. 🙂

  32. Cuba is a very photographic place. I, too have a few posts on Cuba on my site, concentrating on street photography.

  33. Great shots! I have been enjoying your Cuba posts.

    1. Thank you Laurie. I always look forward to your new posts as well.

  34. AMAZING PHOTOS OF CUBA! Thank you so much for sharing. I’ve never been there and now I have by way of your photos.


    1. Thank you for your kind words. I am so glad the images.

  35. Wonderful images of Cuba, you captured its past and present beautifully. I dream of visiting one day; until then I live vicariously. Thanks for visiting ny blog, much appreciated.

    1. Thank you Marcia. The pleasure was all mine. I am happy you’re enjoyed my Cuba post.

  36. Fabulous post, Ron. You make Cuba come alive in front of my very eyes. 🙂

    1. Thanks Jo. Cuba is a special place for Lynne and me.

  37. Looks like you had a wonderful and educational time. I know that I will never make it to Cuba, but I appreciate you awesome digital shots. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Yes, our time in Cuba was wonderful. Thank you for your kind comment. I am glad you enjoyedmthempost.

  38. It is really amazing to relive Havana and its glory.What a wonderful people and place.I love it.

  39. Gorgeous eye for photography. Each photo invoked a different emotion. Well done!

    1. Thank you Sara Beth. And thanks for visiting.

  40. Fantastic pictures and a great post. I have some Cuban friends and they are very much like you describe – vibrant, positive, eager to share about their country, and inventive (we even have a joke about Cubanizing something to fix it). They left for better opportunity to pursue their scientific research.

    1. Thanks. The people is what makes Cuba special. In spite of their government’s oppression, or maybe because of it, their spirits how’s through.

      1. Absolutely agreed. I think that you convey that with your post, along with some fantastic pictures!

    1. You are welcome. The pleasure is mine.

  41. Great post…I remember the pre-Castro Cuba, also. Thanks for the photo update.

    1. You are welcome. Thanks for stopping by.

  42. I love Cuba – albeit only in fantasy. The pictures are lovely and really allow us to see the city and culture. I especially like the photos of every day street life. Thank you for sharing, I’m glad I came across you blog.

    1. It pleases me that you enjoyed my post. Thank you.

  43. I’ve always wanted to go myself and this has just fueled my fire. Beautiful Images!

    1. I hope you get the chance to go soon. Thanks for visiting.

  44. nicely delivered, and the photography was just amazing…great post!

    1. Thanks Ashton and thanks for visiting.

  45. Wow, jam packed with so many colourful and vibrant scenes! A fabulous collection and as good as being there . . . . I wish!

    1. Patti, thank you for your gracious comment. I am glad you enjoyed the post.

  46. Exquisite post.Fantastic pictures.jalal

  47. This is fabulous..thank you so much for the “visual field trip”..Well deserved of being Freshly Pressed!

  48. So, so amazing. I’ve had Cuba on my ‘must-see’ destinations and this has only made me more determined to visit one day. Loved this post.

    1. I hope you can go – sooner rather than later. Cuba is changing. Thanks for your kind remarks

        1. Fortunately for the Cubans, their standard of living seems to be slowly improving and some of the “old Cuba” charm is being lost.

  49. I went there a few years ago and found it to be just incredible. The people were inviting and their culture was shared heart to heart. I felt like I wanted to stay longer. These photos are stunning.

    1. Most people who go feel,as,you and I do. There is a lot wrong with Cuba, as there is every where, but the friendliness, warmth, and spirit of the Cuban people is what makes it so special.

  50. Cuba has always been near the top of my list to visit. I would have LOVED to have gone before the embargo!

    1. Thank you for commenting. You should go if you get the chance. Cuba is changing quickly.

  51. First, congrats on being freshly pressed. I am thrilled that you were as I now have an opportunity to follow you. This post was just wonderful and your photos really excellent. I can tell that you really do love Cuba.

    1. Thank you Mz. Indeed, Cuba was a wonderful experience.

      1. You are very welcome. If I am lucky I too will visit Cuba some day. You certainly make it appealing.

  52. With words as gripping as your images are stunning, this is a post I’ll continue to revisit. What a wonderful vibe.

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Fiona. I he to have more on Cuba in the near future.

  53. “Yank tanks” – there’s an expression I’ve never heard before!

    1. I can’t lay claim to coining it, but it certainly is descriptive. Thanks for stopping by.

  54. My father’s family is from Cuba. Although I live in Miami, I feel distanced from that culture. Your pics are stunning. I forgot for a few minutes I have never been there.

    1. Understandably, many of your generation do feel distanced. I fear I may be over- generalizing, but it seems to me there is a great difference between the Cuban American culture of Miami and cuba’s culture. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  55. Fabulous post! Beautiful photos and words.

    1. And a thanks to you for your visit and comment. 🙂

  56. I was fortunate to see Los Van Van and the Roots perform in Havana! Such a special place! Amazing photography thank you!

    1. That had to have been a wonderful experience. Thanks for your kind comment and for visiting.

    1. Lynn, thank you. The Cuban people get all the credit for the “great vibe.”

  57. Great post…. I would love to go there just to get away from the corporate high street, and the fact that people return to live from other counties says it all. I am looking at the price for flights as soon as I stop writing…………………… great post

    1. Thomas, thank you so much. I truly he you get the chance to visit Cuba. Despite the oppressive government and their hardships, Cuba has a spirit like no place else.

  58. Beautiful photography, each photo tells a story…a very rich story. Wonderful. Add to that your great story telling and words. Great post, and look forward to reading & seeing more.

    1. I am so pleased you enjoyed “Cuba.” It was a wonderful experience and I hope to share more about Cuba in the near future.

  59. Incredible post on a place I’d love to go. Wonderful photos. Truly impressed. Glad you enjoyed your trip!

    1. Thank you Jessica, for you kind words. I hope the get the opportunity to visit Cuba.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment and encouragement.

  60. Getting to experience the culture and really get to know people is so often missed in travel these days. We recently had the opportunity to meet and talk with several Garifuna, a Central American people. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garifuna_people I welcome the day when more have the opportunity to visit and experience Cuba, but worry that the special culture there will struggle against the tide of American influence.

    1. You are so right on all counts. Cuba is changing and will change rapidly if the embargo is lifted. Thanks for you comments.

  61. These photos where truly beautiful, it shows a side of a place not many people get to see

    1. Thank you so much for your observation.

  62. Wonderful photos! Always wanted to go to Cuba, thanks for the tour.

  63. Great pictures! What a fun and magical place that looks to be!

  64. Amazing photography, you really portrayed the essence and character of the place and people!! I’ve always wanted to go to Havana – thanks for the great post.

    1. Thank you Xenia. I am happy you liked to post.

      1. You mention that it is modernizing. This is inevitable, but what I want to ask: what do you think the window of time is on being able to experience the Cuba that you depicted?

  65. Stunning photography! I also very much enjoyed how you captured the Cubans’ ability to keep the “Yank tanks” running. When I visited Cuba several years ago, that stood out to me, as well.

    1. Al, thanks you for your kind words. The Yank Tanks and the Cubans tenacity to keep them running is a metaphor for Cuba.

  66. Such a great collection! I’m torn between going sooner with my Photography skills still very ‘green’ or later when I’ll have improved but the embargo potentially lifted. decisions decisions!

    1. My advice would be to go sooner rather than later. Cuba is changing quickly and that will accelerate if the embargo is lifted.

  67. amazing photographs. My grandparents move to America in 1959 so this was very neat to see knowing the history of Cuba. I would love to visit one day.

    1. I am happy you enjoyed the post and hope you get the chance to visit one day.

  68. Cuba looks amazing and well neighboring with Mexico reminds me so much of it, thank you for sharing your visit to Cuba. The photos are fantastic!

  69. You did well—Life without Wal-Mart, Starbucks how can it be. People and the joy of life…Thank you.

      1. You are so welcome.

  70. photos are fantastic, a vibrant slice of real life and deeply inspiring – Cuba has been on my wish list for some time. Co-incidentally I just read The Old Man and the Sea. Brilliant, thank you 🙂

    1. Thank you Roberta. Cuba is beautiful and I hope you can visit soon. The Hemingway book if one of my favorites and you remind me I should dust it off and give it another reading.

    1. Thanks. Cuba is high on many bucket lists, and deservedly so.

      1. I cant believe how fantastic it is your photos where just amazing
        I could almost smell taste hear and feel it

  71. I’ve always wanted to visit Cuba, and now even more so after reading this post! Your photos are just lovely and it seems like you captured so many wonderful slices of life there.

    1. Cuba is beautiful but is slowly but surely modernizing. I hope you get the chance to visit soon. Thanks for your kind comments and happy travels.

  72. Awesome post! I am working on getting over to Cuba in the next few months (hopefully!) and this just makes me want to make it happen faster!

    1. I hope you get to make the trip soon. Cuba is changing quickly. Thanks for visiting and for your comment.

  73. I loved your blog. You have captured the essence of the country in such a beautiful way. I am from the Caribbean myself but I have never been to Cuba. I am longing to go now. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you Magdalene for you kind comment. Cuba is very much like other Caribbean island though culturally very unique. I hope you get the opportunity to visit Cuba soon.

  74. Great post (photos and commentary) and congratulations on making it on Freshly Pressed

  75. What a wonderful way to start the morning – your photographs are wonderful!

  76. Amazing Photography, woah I would love to visit here!

  77. Of all the cities in the world this is the one I most want to visit and the on I may never be allowed to see. Thank you so much.

  78. Lovely photos…even of a city that contains so much decay.

  79. Beautiful photos! My wife and I took a similar trip to Havana and Vinales. It’s a place that really gets under your skin and sticks with you. You’re right about the music too, it’s everywhere! I did some recording of various ambiences while I was there and used them to make an album of electronic music. You can read about our trip here: http://www.sublimesound.com

  80. Beautiful photography, loved the cars!

  81. Enjoyed reading your take on this city! Your photography is excellent. You have a new follower here so please be a busy blogger so I can see more! 🙂

  82. Great photos! I was largely disappointed by Havana if I’m honest. I was saddened by the very poor state of the infrastructure and also the way that money had clearly been put into certain parts of the city to attract tourists. Overpricing seemed to be common place. Sadly I don’t think I will ever return to Cuba. Good Luck.

    1. So much color and beauty wherever one looks. Thanks.

  83. Havana is a photographer’s dream…. Great shots!

  84. I really enjoyed the photos, you have shed light on a very misunderstood country

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

  85. Also loved Havanna when I visited! Really awesome post and great photos!

    1. Everyone I know who has been there loved it. Thanks.

  86. I love the old cars. Some of those photos could have been right out of the 50’s. what was it like then before the revolution? How old we’re you during your first visit?

    1. I was a teenager. Tough my memories are a little faded it doesn’t seem like much has changed. Thanks for stopping by.

  87. Hi I am from Kolkata, India and I must say that quite a few photographs of the Streets of Havana looked very much like those in Kolkata. Wonderful. 🙂

    1. I couldn’t agree more. Kolkata hasn’t changed much since the late 1940s and Cuba since the late 1950s.

      1. Actually some parts, it has. In the south kolkata thatis. North kolkata is pretty much the same!!! Like Havana!

  88. Fascinated with the US classic car presence outside of the US! Same here in Chiang Mai with the younger gen, though probably not as ubiquitous as in Havana. Interesting to see the contrast with the old and young, luxurious and modest.

    1. I had no idea US classic cars were big in Chiang Mai. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  89. Love the pictures……! Cuba seems like a land lost in time….definitely a must visit…thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you. I hope,you are able to go.

  90. Wonderful photos; I love those old cars! I wonder, should Cuba become more integrated into the world, will it retain this uniqueness and beauty?

    1. Thanks. Things are slowly changing and as they say, “change is inevitable.”

  91. I absolutely love your photos. They capture the heart and soul of the people of Cuba.

    1. Thank you for your generous comment. I am glad you liked the post.

  92. i really love your way of taking photos….you don’t just capture the landscape but also the soul of the people…..amazing!

    1. Thank you so much. The credit goes to the Cuban people.

    1. Caroline, thanks for your kind comment.

  93. This is great idea for a blog. Can you give me some pointers on going to Cuba for the first time?

    1. I would suggest googling “Cuba cultural exchange.”

  94. Absolutely gorgeous photo’s!!!!

    1. Thanks Kathleen for your kind comment.

  95. Excellent post! Your images and writing provides an incredible picture of a place that you note as ‘land of contrasts’. Thanks for sharing your experience in such a great way.

    1. You are so welcome Mike. Thanks you for commenting.

  96. I really really really liked this post. The photos are beyond fantastic and I have to say, I fell in love with the classic car models. This post has confirmed that I need to put Cuba on my travelling list so that, at the very least, I can indulge myself in looking at these beautiful cars stroll in those tiny streets. Though some people might see this as a bad thing, I actually think it’s good that Cuba doesn’t have any “Western influence” as you so put it. Because, if you’re going to a place like Cuba, you don’t want to visit a Starbucks Coffee Shop, or a KFC branch, you want to see Cuba in all its glorious simplicity; the beaches, the nightclubs, the rumba, the salsa that you just can’t help moving to in the middle of the street. Of course Cuba needs a lot of economic reforms to give its own people “more opportunities” as you said. But you just portrayed it as such a magical place. Thank you so much for sharing this experience, it helped me see a side of Cuba I didn’t know was there.

    1. Wow Yelmy, thank you for your kind and thoughtful comment. A you mention, Cuba certainly has its woes but the people we met were so warm and friendly. Things seem to be slowly improving but who knows what the future holds.

      1. I can totally relate to the way you describe the Cubans, because that’s how most Egyptians are (I’m Egyptian, hi! :D). I don’t want to sound stereotypical but, I think it goes to say that for most what people scientifically describe as “developing countries” you seem to find this sort of simplistic goodness in their people, and I’m not saying that this quality strictly belongs to Cubans, Egyptians, or developing nations, but it’s something that I’ve noticed in most of the “developing countries” I’ve been fortunate enough to visit.
        I look forward to read more of your travels. Have a nice day!

  97. The old section and buildings of my city are same as the ones of this post. Their deterioration is the same as that of mine: sad.

  98. Much appreciated. Last year a photographer posted photos of his trip to North Korea. You never get a glimpse into North Korea so I was enamored. Now I have had the same experience with the beautiful, broad spectrum of photos here in Cuba. You captured it well and again, I thank you for sharing them.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind comment. I am glad you enjoyed the post.

  99. Reminds me of Puerto Rico and Panama (Canal Zone) about 30 years ago. I grew up in Puerto Rico in my elementary school years and graduated from Canal Zone College in 1968. I love the Latin beat. Music you just can’t turn off Ole, ole! Great photos. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I would imagine so. Culturally very similar. Thanks for visiting.

  100. The photos just look so vivid and real you could almost feel the place around literally.

    1. Thanks you for your kind compliment and thank you for visiting.

  101. Enchanting! You have brought out the heart and pulse of a country and her people. You have great eye for the unusual and the interesting.

    1. Thank you so much. It was a marvelous experience.

  102. Perhaps Cuba proves that resourcefulness trumps materialism at all cost? Hoping to make it there in the near future and see for myself…

  103. This blog made Havana a lovely place to visit to. In your photos, the people and the place are so inviting and friendly and it feels like I’m at the actual place and strolling over the streets of Havana.

    1. I am happy you felt that way. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  104. Stunning. I have a possible opportunity to go to Cuba next spring and I’m very excited about it. Your photos are beautiful and really capture so much diversity in a place that is a mystery to most of us. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Allison, I hope you get to go. You are sure to enjoy it. Thanks for your comment and for visiting.

  105. What vibrant photos that so well capture the essence of Cuba. It felt like I was there. Thank you for such reading pleasure.

    1. Thank you Regina. I am happy you enjoyed the post. Cuba is very special o me. In fact, I am turning in a few weeks so stay tuned.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words.

  106. I found out about your blog through the wave photo, it’s just so mesmerising!

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