DESTINATION - HAVANA, CUBA
GEAR: CANON MARK 5D II
Original notes from my trip to Cuba... May - 2011
"Cuba is an ultimate travel contradiction ... a dynamic mix of music, the finest Flamenco dancing and ballet, World Heritage Sites, amazing history and revolutionary politics and a feeling of life sucked out of it by unbending burden of socialism. What I see is a Cuba dusting its' communist cobwebs and a people putting their hopes on both sides of the straights of Florida"
Welcome. So, this is my first Bucketlist Photographer blog post on my new site. Where am I going … well anywhere I find that special moment behind the lens and all I can think is... OMG what a sight! I have had a few of those OMG moments but life is short and I want more! I love the feeling of being mesmerized by the sights I see thru my lens.
First of all, I hope to keep your interest with the images, the experiences and about the gear I use when I travel. Feel free to ask questions and to post your comments. With that, let's get going. First stop .... Havana, Cuba 2011.
To tell you where I am going …. I have start to tell you something about where I have been and some of the experiences along the way. This year, the President sent an olive branch across the Florida straights to the island of Cuba, a place so near and closed off to most Americans for more that 50 years and – I traveled to Cuba as an American Photographer. It was an experience from the start!
I was on the prop plane for a short 45 minute flight to a place that is lifetime away. Unimaginable. As we entered Cuban airspace, I thought about Fidel Castro's long life, living beyond the lives of so many American presidents; Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Ford, Reagan, Bush one and two. Amazing right? As the flight attendant announced our imminent arrival passengers clapped and shouted, "Cuba, Cuba". We landed in Havana and the first thing leaving the airport billboard of President Bush... The statement below his image ... not very flattering!. I stayed at the Telágrafo Hotel … a short walk to the beach. There we were able to trade in some dollars along with a penalty paid to the government to purchase money that was used only to exchange with local Cubans. It was illegal to use American dollars in Cuba although I suspect there are many dollars hidden in mattresses and holes in the walls of many Cubans!
THE TELÁGRAFO HOTEL
So this was Castro's Cuba. Stepping out of the hotel and into the streets was like you stepped into another time. Old American cars going up and down the streets, some in amazing conditions and then not so much but incredibly fun to photograph. Since I am Argentine, I do speak the Spanish language and getting around proved very easy. Now, an American with a pro camera on Castro's island... I was watched and it was obvious each time I stopped to engage conversation and take a photo, it became obvious.
I went down toward the beach along the Prado. a beautiful walkway down the center of Havana toward the Malecón de la Habana, the boardwalk where everyone gathers to walk, people watch, swim and fish. In the same area is the old lighthouse ...say more about it and the palace and the Bacardi rum building and the bulding that looks like ours.put images as you break it up
EL PRADO - THE GRANITE WALKWAY TOWARD THE BEACH
THE ENTRY TO THE HARBOUR - REYES DEL MORRO
A VIEW FROM THE ROOF OF THE HOTEL - INHABITED BY SQUATTER FAMILIES
It was sad to see the some of that amazing colonial architecture is such a state of deterioation. For over a half a century, Fidel left things to decline, a slap in the face to capitolism. Casto took away these amazing homes from their owners and turned it over to the people. The problem. There was no incentive to maintain these homes and the many hurricanes that have battered the island just took their tool. Most are probably not safe to live in.
But, this is not all of Habana or Cuba. This is the downtown area. Much of the historical sites are under renovation today, by the other brother. We went to an area outside the downtown area, Miramar. A beautiful neighborhood, like something you would find in South Florida ... like Miramar, Florida! Perhaps that is where Fidel Castro and the Castro family live? No one really knows where they live. The Cuban people do know "Fidelito", the Doctor son of Fidel Castro. You can find more about Fidel and his personal life at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fidel_Castro. Alot of great information. I have been told that the beaches along the coast and hotels are just amazing to behold. They say that they are too far for Castro to think about! They get tourists from all over the world and south America.
I enjoyed the feeling of being safe in Havana... apparently no one really want to break the law... they dont want to spend time in Fidel's jails. Can't be much fun! You go in and really never get out! I walked around town with my Canon Mark II and a couple of street lens and always felt safe. I found this movie theatre ... the lights on the marquee didn't work but people were still going to the movies and I just stood there wondering... more that 50 years and the image says it all.
A PICTURE SPEAKS A THOUSAND WORDS
I also went to visit the Hemingway estate ...
We went to …. where the Hemmingway estate is located on the other side of the Trans Bahia tunnel. Now this is a place that truly stopped time. The home as Hemingway left it ... a memorial to the writer who loved Cuba, where he wrote his most famous novel, The Old Man and the Sea and where he took his own life.
AN INSIGHT TO HEMINGWAY'S LIFE
HEMINGWAY'S OFFICE WITH HIS VIEW OF THE OCEAN AND WHERE ACCORDING TO THE CARETAKERS IS WHERE TO HE TOOK HIS LIFE
ABOVE: WHERE TIME STOOD STILL AS HEMINGWAY LEFT IT
Not too faraway from Hemingway's estate stood a home that was once an ocean front estate. Once a glorious home on facing the ocean, now dying a slow death. There were multiple families living there and the great stairs were falling apart event though there were the original furnishings and oriental rugs in appalling conditions. No running water. What were they trying to prove?
BELOW: THE INTERIOR OF AN OCEAN ESTATE
THE EXTERIOR OF THE AN OCEAN ESTATE
There are amazing places to visit and I look forward to the day I can further explore the island just 90 miles away from our shores. Here are more images from my visit in 2011.
RENOVATION UNDERWAY IN DOWNTOWN HAVANA
EL CAPITOLIO BUILDING - LOOK FAMILIAR
THE ONE AND ONLY TROPICANA SINCE 1939
THE HOTEL NACIONÁL - WHERE THE FAMOUS, THE INFAMOUS, SPORTS HEROES AND POLITICIANS CAME
ENJOY THE CARRIBEAN
DRIVING ALONG THE STRIP OF THE MALECÓN WITH THE HOTEL NACIONÁL IN THE BACKGROUND
ABOVE AND BELOW - THE TABACCO FARM THAT CULTIVATES CASTRO'S FAVORITE CIGAR - COHIBA
ABOVE : CROPPED TOBACCO
THIS IS HANGING AT FIDEL CASTRO'S WAR MUSEUM WHICH WAS ONCE THE GREAT PALACE OF PRESIDENT BAPTISTA