Cuba on the Brink and Why I’m Going Back

Cuba on the Brink and Why I’m Going Back

Iconic Cuba

These are heady times for the people of Cuba. Exciting times for sure, Ballet Practice - Havana, Cubabut fraught with uncertainty. The re-opening of diplomatic relations (embassies in Havana and Washington are set to open July 20) and the inevitable lowering of the decades-long embargo will bring unknowable change to our island neighbor to the south. Cuba, a country of incredible natural beauty, remains much as it was sixty years ago. Her people are warm, friendly and welcoming. Havana was surely one of the most beautiful cities in the world in the mid 20th Century. She is still beautiful, but sadly, a beauty of decay. But there is a rhythm of life there,  a sensuality like no place else. A photographer’s dream. But, tourists are washing ashore in unprecedented numbers and many of them are Americans thanks to the relaxed travel restrictions announced by President Obama in December 2014. Tourism is flourishing causing a chronic shortage of hotel rooms. Carnival Cruise Lines has just announced it will begin sailing to Cuba. This symbol of wasteful, hedonistic capitalism arrives in Havana. The irony defies my understanding. Cuban Cigars

Havana is poised between two conditions of equal mortal peril. On the one hand, not enough money, which is the present state, and on the other, too much money, too fast. Lack of resources prevents the Cuban government from halting the physical collapse of the city, which progresses at an alarming rate, notwithstanding the showpiece restorations in Old Havana… At the same time, the flood of North American investment that will follow the inevitable lifting of the punitive U.S. embargo could set off equally dangerous forces of uncontrolled development. ___Mario Coyula Cowley

Plaza de la Revolution, Havana, Cuba

For Cuba, change is in the air. This is absolutely the best time to visit. I so firmly believe this to be true that I will be taking a small group of photographers and non-photographers legally to Cuba for a week beginning November 30, 2015. This promises to be a trip of a lifetime. Cuba’s future remains largely unwritten, but dramatic changes are on her horizon. We will experience Havana with her grand colonial architecture and warm, friendly people. A city little changed in over six decades. You will marvel at the world’s largest collection of classic American cars, aka “Yank Tanks,” as they ply the streets of Old Havana. The Parque Central, Havana’s only Five Star hotel, in the heart of Old Havana will be home for the week. We will dine at many of Havana’s best restaurants, spend time with artists, dancers, musicians. Visit an organic farm in the stunning Vinales Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take in a baseball game. The list goes on.

Gift of Gab, Havana, CubaCuban Classic - Havana

Think you may be interested in this unique opportunity? There are just a few spaces left so you must act soon. For an overview of the trip click here.

Laundry Day- Havana

Ron Mayhew

Fine Art Photographer specializing in Still Life and Commercial Photography.

This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. I’m hoping that the people of Cuba and the influx of tourists will be a very positive experience for both sides…likely to be fragile at times, but from what I have heard about the culture it will not only survive, but thrive with these new opportunities. It would be exciting to be able to view, watch and admire this transition. Look forward to see your views and photos as time move on.

    1. I hope so too. I think most Cubans are guardedly optimistic. They are amazingly clever and tenacious and make to best of what they have, so yes, I agree, they will thrive. Thanks, Randall.

  2. I agree that this is the best time to visit before the old charm disappears. Your photos are awesome.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment and for visiting.

  3. Oh dear! I guess it’s good news for the Cuban people, but sad to think that it’s bound to change the magical aura which you’ve so often portrayed here through your wonderful photos.

    1. Change is a double-edged sword and inevitable. Thanks, Sylvia.

  4. Change is slow to come to its people… The government keeps getting richer, but doesn’t spread the wealth with the people. I know! My entire family is still there…

    1. Best wishes for your family and thank you for commenting.

  5. If the access to life’s basics of food, shelter and clothing is improved for the average Cuban than the changes that are taking place have my approval. I agree that the Cubans are a proud people and will survive. I would also love to see the beauty of Havana be revived along with the restoration of the many ‘Yank Tanks”.

    1. Life in Cuba is improving, albeit, slowly. What effect the lifting of the embargo will have remains to be seen. I would hope the Cuban government would make Havana’s preservation a priority. Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Skip.

  6. I share your fears for Cuba. Capitalism is hard to resist even while we know it is not under our control, and I worry that the Cubans hard won sense of nationality will be lost. And don’t forget there are faceless ones and men in suits with long memories who want revenge for what they saw as robbery by Fidel of their rights.

    1. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. The Cubans I’ve talk too are hopeful but only somewhat optimistic. Thank you for your comment.

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