Cuba October 2017 (7 photos)

This is part 1 of my Cuba 2017 photo series.

Hola! Como estas? I know it’s been a while but I’m back now from my trip to Cuba.

I’ve been travelling for over a month with Cuba as my main destination. Those of you who follow me on Instagram may even have seen my semi-regular short video updates from my trip. Maybe you even saw the one which I posted then removed after 1 hour which showed my face. I like that feature which allows videos to be automatically removed after 24 hours, or at will.

Cuba means different things to different people. My trip was planned when I realised that American-Cuban relations were thawing under the Obama Administration. I wanted to go before it was “too late” to experience Cuba as it is, seemingly stuck in the 1950’s. In reality, I travelled to Cuba as American-Cuban relations were re-freezing under the Trump Administration and amid the accusations of “sonic attacks”. I think Cuba will remain in its time warp for a while yet.

I most definitely was “Havana” good time on this trip. There wasn’t a single day in Cuba when I wasn’t smiling and happy to be there. Maybe it was all that Caribbean sunshine. Perhaps the daily doses of Mojitos and Special Reserve Havana Rum had something to do with it. Maybe everyone smiling at me and greeting me was rubbing off on me. I’d learnt enough Spanish to be able to talk with many locals and they appreciated my efforts with several of them inviting me into their homes. As a whole, Cubans are some of the friendliest people I have met anywhere.

Over a series of posts, please allow me to share with you some photos and anecdotes from my temporary sojourn in a subtropical delirium. I visited Cuba a few weeks after Hurricane Irma struck. Irma was a powerful and catastrophic Cape Verde-type hurricane, the strongest observed in the Atlantic since Wilma in 2005 in terms of maximum sustained winds. There were 10 reported deaths in Cuba from Hurricane Irma. A part of my travel plans had to be changed as a result of the damage caused by Irma. I visited the cities/towns of Havana, Santa Clara, Remedios, Trinidad, Cienfuegos, and Australia (yes, you read that correctly).

My time in Cuba was temporary and so are the scenes I’ve captured but the memories will last forever.

Time to get up close and personal with Cuba and its people.

This is part 1 of my Cuba 2017 photo series.

This is part 1 of my photo series of my 2017 trip to the USA, Mexico, Cuba, and Canada.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

“Havana” good time


171 thoughts on ““Havana” good time

  1. What a fascinating post with gorgeous photos from your sojourn in Cuba,dear Draco!Lots of local colour,you did capture the real spirit of the island and the Caribbean sunshine in people’s heart!Great all the characters in your fabulous portraits,stunning the facades of the old buildings,they look like large-scale murals!Sad though that your visit was after Irma,the monstrous hurricane.Looking forward to your next Cuba post,hope to see some photos from the village of Australia πŸ™‚

    • Cuba is a very colourful country. The technicolour buildings shine through the dilapidation. Old classic cars. There is music everywhere. But it is the people who stand out – so very friendly. I hope I can show this through my photos.

  2. Remarkable images of Cuba and people. Sad to see the terrible damage from Hurricane Irma!
    How cool to see this unique country. Thank you for the awesome tour, Dragon! Looking forward for more. πŸ™‚ Oh, I missed the video of Dragon on IG…

  3. Wow! What an amazing trip and wonderful photos. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing more of your travels. I remember hearing of the times (pre-Castro) that Cuba used to be a hot vacation spot for Americans.

    • If it weren’t for history, Cuba would be a perfect “sun-chasing” destination. Resorts on the Cuban coast cater to hordes of Canadians and Russians currently.

      Thank you, Linda. It was a fabulous trip and I enjoyed it more than I anticipated. I still have the suntan to prove it. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  4. Welcome back. I’m looking forward to seeing more photos. I agree that Chicagoans are very friendly and if you ever get to the US, we’ll show you that it’s true (even though we “only” live in a suburb.) Midwesterners in general are very friendly.


  5. I have missed you LD, but now I know where you have been hiding I can’t wait to see more. Excellent portraits as usual, but my favourite has to be that pink Cadillac!

    • Thank you very much, Jude. Those classic old cars are everywhere in Havana. I did a day tour and had a hot pink Ford Fairlane for the day. It was in great condition. I felt very “cool”. πŸ™‚

      • I’ll bet you did. I fancied hiring a pink open top for our drive down the Big Sur. Sadly it was February and definitely NOT open top weather. We settled for an imitation Chrysler PT Cruiser (I think ours was Chevrolet). A dreadful car to drive.

  6. J.D. Riso says:

    Splendid images, especially the first one. Wow. I saw some of your Instagram stories, but missed the one of your unveiling. Oh well. It was fun to be able to follow you on your journey while it happened. It seems like it was a profound trip for you. So looking forward to the rest.

    • Thank you. That video was an accident and it took me that long to finish what I was doing, buy a new wifi card and return to the wifi hub and delete the video. Internet access in Cuba is not simple. πŸ˜‰

      I’ve long wanted to go to Cuba. It was a great trip which lived up to expectations and more.

  7. A place I would love to visit. When you can engage people in their own language then you can enter their lives and the images have heart. Some beautiful natural portraits in this first tranche.

    • Thank you. Regardless of whether you are a landscape photographer, door photographer, portrait photographer, or even a cat photographer, you will not be unhappy in Cuba. πŸ™‚ There is plenty for everyone. Portraits taken on the street with permission (after a small chat first) was something entirely new for me.

  8. Posts like yours are why I am addicted to WP and had to come back, just in time, to follow you through Cuba. You have captured the atmosphere of this so different country and my favourite is the last bloke puffing on his huge cigar and with the old fashioned film (?) camera complete with leather case, a classic. Did he take your photo? I’m looking forward to more. And Australia??? can’t wait to see where you went and what interesting things you found. Have you been over here before?

    • Thank you very much. That last guy didn’t take my photo but he wanted to show me his camera. It was a nice chance to interact because of photography – he couldn’t speak a word of English. This was my first trip to Cuba. I’d love to go back again.

      • Can they get digital cameras over there? I think Cuba is the sort of place that fascinates so many people I have seen documentaries on it and would love to go. But travelling there in your photos is going to be the closest I will get

        • Yes, digital cameras are available but the issue is their relative cost. Cuba is a communist country. The official average monthly salary was 687 pesos, or about $25, in 2015, according to Cuba’s National Office of Statistics.

        • According to a Reuters report from April 2017, the UN praised Cuba for its free (and compulsory) education, healthcare and social welfare systems. Current estimates of unemployment are about 2%. It’s the embargo by the USA against Cuba that is keeping the country poor.

  9. Mis saludos. Hace tiempo que no te escribo (ahora lo hago en espaΓ±ol porque tienes entrenamiento muy cercano). Como siempre las fotos fabulosas y aunque no vivo en La Habana, sino en Santiago de Cuba me son familiares. Gracias una vez mΓ‘s por esa maravilla.

      • Pardon me, LD. I think is very difficult that you read in Spanish. I do not read in English very well. I am studying English now. I am sure so you have enjoyed your trip and you will come back Cuba. I love it. Thanks for your photos. They are great!!!.

        • Thank you very much, Juan. I am happy to speak with you in English or Spanish. It helps us both to learn.
          Muchas gracias, Juan. Me complace hablar con usted en InglΓ©s o EspaΓ±ol. Nos ayuda a ambos a aprender.

        • Hi, LD. I agree about your expression: “It helps us both to learn”. English is a language very difficult and Spanish too. Tnanks for this opportunity. I hope talk and write English well. I am studying hard. I could send you photos of Baracoa?. This is the first village founded in Cuba and my city of birth. Baracoa is a beatiful town built very near the sea. Until a next opportunity. Have a good day.

        • Thank you very much, Juan. I have taken a look at Baracoa on Google. The first city of Cuba looks very picturesque. Very tropical. If I get the chance to return to Cuba I would love to go further east to Santiago, and now Baracoa. Have a great weekend.

  10. I’m seriously envious Mr Dragon, not that I haven’t had the opportunity to travel but Havana is one of those places I’d really like to get to before the changes that are already happening change the place forever. Castro’s Cuba was unique and I wish I’d visited a few years ago. I love the photo of the barber shop!

    • Thanks. I also wish I’d visited a few years earlier and now I hope to visit again. It’s one of those places that has that effect on you. There is something in Cuba to suit all photographic tastes and style. When I saw your recent travel photos of dilapidated buildings, before I’d left for Cuba. you had me excited. πŸ™‚

  11. These are stunning images. I particularly love the photo of the man with the stub of cigar hanging out of his mouth.

    Would love to try to use this photo as inspiration for a sketch if that’s ok with you?

  12. Wonderful photos! I finally travelled to Cuba in December 2016/January 2017 – it was one of my dream destinations! Unfortunately, didn’t have enough time to travel around the whole island, so I hope I’ll go back one day soon and finish my trip. I have to say Trinidad was my least favourite place, but I loved Havana, Vinales and, surprisingly, Varadero. Cuba is a really fantastic place and it’s difficult to beat casas particulares! Thanks for sharing your experiences!

    • As most people enter Cuba via Havana, that must be the standard by which the rest of the country is judged. The experience is countered by the warmth of the people in the country. Trinidad therefore falls in between the city and country experience but it has its own charms. I don’t think you can experience Cuba and not feel for the people and their inner strength. I hope to return one day as well.

      • Oh yes, I’m in awe of people’s strength and also warmth and friendliness are fantastic! For me Cuba brought some memories of my old country: I grew up in a communist country with lots of liberties as well as basic, every day necessities being strictly controlled and limited. However, Cubans, unlike what I’d observed all those years back in Poland, still seem to smile, be relaxed and they come across so much happier!It humbled me. It’s a country that really draws me in and one I’d like to get more understanding of. Trinidad was a mixture of great and not so great experiences, and it didn’t help that I’d got really sick there, but it was still good. So far Vinales has been my favourite. Talking to locals along the way in my broken Spanish with a help of a dictionary and all that kindness I experienced throughout my journey it’s something I’ll cherish for a long time. Here’s to the next trip πŸ™‚

        • Cuba is hard to categorise and it is immediately noticeable that many people are incredibly open and friendly. Yes, it is a communist country, but these days criticism of the government is not banned. I took a tour on one day and the guide had no trouble telling me what they believed. And superfluous as this may sound, to me there is an undeniable effect on the human psyche of plenty of good sunny weather.

          I can understand that being sick would taint your experience in Trinidad, or anywhere else for that matter. The small town of Remedios was perhaps my favourite location.

          “Talking to locals along the way in my broken Spanish with a help of a dictionary and all that kindness I experienced throughout my journey it’s something I’ll cherish for a long time.” This is so very very true for me too.

  13. Great pictures! I have always wanted to go to Cuba. I have heard that the people are very nice and I think you captured that well in your pictures. What did you like the most about your stay there?

    • Thank you very much. Yes, go before it changes, and it already is. Since my hobby is photography, it was visual overlaid for me. From the classic cars to the dilapidated buildings to the countryside to the people. Then there’s the music and the sun. So much to take in.

  14. Beautiful photos of my beautiful Havana. Greetings from a Habanera who lives in Barcelona πŸ˜˜πŸ‡¨πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¨πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¨πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¨πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¨πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¨πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¨πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¨πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¨πŸ‡Ί

  15. rebeccaskelhorn says:

    Amazing pictures! Cuba is by far the most photogenic place I’ve visited, so beautiful. You’ve captured it so well here.

  16. I love your pictures! Did you visit Matanzas. I was born there and will love to see pictures if you have any. Nice blog. I left Cuba when things were nice, never went back. Its been over 55 years. Is Cuba is no longer recognizable to old folks like me.

    • Thank you very much. My original plan included going to Matanzas and catching the train to Havana. However, because of Hurricane Irma, there was track damage and my plans changed. I can understand that past events have changed Cuba completely for you.

      • Cuba is a photographer’s paradise. How I wish I could pack my bags and take a trip down to my childhood memories, specially to Varadero. What I love about all your photographs the most is how well you capture the flavor of the country-side and its people. I seen many photographers try and fail. Yet not able to capture the spontaneous, non-rehearsed frames. Your blog takes me straight to the story and the good eyes of a photographer.

        Stunning photography artwork!

        • Thank you very much. I’m humbled by your reply. I’m pleased that my photos can capture such emotion and feeling, particularly for someone who used to live in Cuba.

  17. Loved your post and your photos all tell a story. Nothing better than the human face to give you an insight to the place.
    Would like to follow you on IG…is there a link on your site?

    • Thank you very much. Sorry for the delayed response, but as I indicated in my most recent post, I am on a blog break until late January or February.
      You are very welcome to look at my Instagram. I use the same account name there, lignumdraco

  18. Hey Lignum, I’m putting together a post on ‘Pink and Blue’ and obviously your photo of the pink and blue cars above would be 100% perfect! May I include it in the post with credit to Lignum Draco and links to the blog-post and your blog-home? Please let me know, thanks!

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