Havana, Cuba. October 2017 (21 photos)

This is part 15 (and the final part) of my Cuba 2017 photo series.

Well, it’s time to finish off my photo series of my trip last year to Cuba and North America. Deliberately, I’ve focussed the series on Cuba. So let’s end with a few final photos you may find interesting, taken inside Havana.

Looking through one of the many open windows in Habana Vieja, I discovered a workshop. Here, women using old sewing machines, including a couple of “vintage” Singer machines. I think they were making curtains or tablecloths.

Looking through this open window I count at least 15 children in this photo. No doubt there were more in the room.

It’s pot luck what you see inside open windows in Havana.

A line of broken benches.

Washing lines and washing everywhere…

…even directly on the street outside this house.

I met with Roberto Salas inside his private home/studio in Havana. Roberto was one of Fidel Castro’s personal photographers and he showed me many of his iconic photos taken during the Revolution. In the photo above is his famous photo which was published in Life Magazine of the Cuban Revolutionary Flag being unfurled from the Statue of Liberty in 1957. Roberto has documented the Cuban Revolution from the Sierra Maestra to the Bay of Pigs, as well as the only known meeting between Castro and Ernest Hemingway. He subsequently served as a U.N. correspondent and war correspondent in South East Asia.

Look carefully at the “passengers” inside the bus – they’re on motorcycles. That’s Havana for you.

On the inside, trying to break free – random street art.

Inside the rundown facade of what was originally known as La Mansión Camagüey, is a magnificent marble staircase adorned with a now headless female figure. On the wall is etched Fidel Castro’s famous explanation of why he said “Patria o Muerte” (country or death). Rest assured, I spent 15 minutes photographing this from every angle I could imagine.

Two flights up is Havana’s most famous Paladar (private restaurant), La Guarida. Diners here have included Queen Sofia of Spain, Prince Albert of Monaco, Jack Nicholson, Oliver Stone, Steven Spielberg, Naomi Campbell, Ralph Fiennes, Lignum Draco and Sting.

Some of the human lines around Coppelia. Coppelia is a state-run ice cream parlour in Cuba. It employs more than 400 workers and serves 4,250 US gallons (16,100 l) of ice cream to 35,000 customers each day. Coppelia was originally built in a project led by Fidel Castro himself to introduce his love of ice cream to the Cuban masses. The original aim was to produce more ice cream flavours than the big American brands and it had 26 flavours. Fidel’s longtime secretary, Celia Sánchez, named Coppelia after her favorite ballet. It occupies almost an entire block and queues form on all sides. Those still on the street stay there until summoned by staff to join the lines inside the complex. I had the vanilla chocolate chip.

How to cool off, if you don’t want to wait in the Coppelia line.

A glimpse inside Cementerio de Cristóbal Colón.

Inside the home of José Fuster. He started by decorating his own home in a homage to Picasso and Gaudi. He then got permission to decorate many of his neighbourhood’s houses. The area is now known as Fusterlandia.

I couldn’t finish off my posts about Cuba without including another photo of a Cuban standing inside a doorway.

So that’s the end of this series about Cuba and North America for now. Perhaps I’ll return to it later.

In the meantime, I have a plane to catch next week and packing/preparation/work to be done. If I get a chance, I’ll do one more post next week before leaving. If not, I’ll be back in a few weeks with a new photographic series. Assuming I get some interesting photos.

This is part 15 of my Cuba 2017 photo series.

This is part 22 of my photo series of my 2017 trip to the USA, Mexico, Cuba, and Canada.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

Inside Havana


120 thoughts on “Inside Havana

  1. Such a diverse and always fascinating country. Thank you LD for such an interesting series. It is a country I would love to visit, but never will so your photos have given me a virtual tour. Now I wonder what interesting place you are going to next. I look forward to finding out when you return. Have a safe journey. Bon voyage

  2. J.D. Riso says:

    Oh, wow, I simply must dine at that place that welcomed the enigmatic Lignum Draco. 😉 All of these Cuba posts have been such a delight to behold, but this one is probably my favorite. So eclectic and real. So much to see in windows. Bon voyage to your next secret destination.

    • In Habana vieja, most people have no qualms about leaving their doors and windows open. It’s natural to peek in and smile and say hi or wave. It’s so different to my usual life.
      If you go to La Guarida, ask for my table. They’ll look after you. 🙂 I also went to the restaurant that President Obama dined at, but was seated at the table the Kardashians had. Let’s not talk about that any further.
      Not long to go till the flight out. I’ve had a bit of help with planning this one, and that’s been truly appreciated.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this series through Cuba. I was scratching my head at the sight of motorbikes queued to go into a bus. I’m sure there’s a “logical” reason for it. There must be. 🙂

        • I was buying some gear a few weeks before leaving for the USA/Cuba and the guy in the camera store told me about him. I looked through all his photos before my trip. I’d be tempted to go back to Cuba with his trip as an excuse.

    • There is something interesting everywhere you look in Cuba. It was fabulous experience. And so often, people will play up for the camera, or at least not be concerned about being photographed. 🙂

  3. Heide says:

    This series is ASTOUNDING, Mr. Draco. I’m not exaggerating by saying it’s maybe my favorite collection of images from Cuba yet. There’s so much ruin here yet such vibrancy — from headless statues to Fusterlandia. And the humanity! That image of the woman asleep on her sofa is such an ordinary little moment, yet also extraordinary. Wonderful, wonderful work. Thank you so much for sharing it!

    • Thank you so much. Ordinary life in Cuba is so different to what we know that it immediately becomes extraordinary. I particularly like the last photo with the ruins and the broken sign saying “Viva Fi el”. The bird in flight is a vulture. They’re everywhere in Havana.
      Thanks for taking this virtual tour of Cuba with me. It didn’t disappoint me.

      • Heide says:

        I loved that “Viva Fi el” sign too — it translates as “live faithfully,” which is I suppose what Fidel demanded of his people. And to some extent he got it! I remember watching an interview with ballet dancer José Manuel Carreño who said that growing up in Cuba he didn’t realize how poor he was because he got free ballet lessons and shoes, all paid for by the state. As for those vultures … well, that’s another matter, isn’t it? I’ll try not to think *too* much about how there can possibly be enough deceased animals to feed them all. Oof.

        • You don’t know what you haven’t got until someone tells you. I remember reading the the 3 biggest failures of the revolution were breakfast, lunch and dinner.Things are changing in Cuba, albeit slowly.

  4. Your photos tell the story of Havana that tourists don’t normally get. Interesting captures through these windows.
    Such a privilege to meet Roberto Salas and his photo work though I didn’t know much about him, my ignorance. Thank you for sharing.
    Another set of great photos. Enjoy your trip, Dragon. One trip after another… I envy you. 🙂

    • Thanks so much for your company on this virtual tour, Amy. Havana is one of those places where a simple half mile walk can take half a day because there is so much to see and such friendly people to stop and talk to.
      You’ve possibly seen Roberto salas’ work without knowing it. He has some great photos.
      And about the travelling, I’m just trying to keep up with you, Amy. I’m looking forward to crossing paths with you one day and having you appear on my blog. 🙂

  5. Excellent shots. I love shooting street, it looks like you had a feast!

    Loved that wall art, trying to break through and escape, and those benches, from documentaries I understand those wooden slat seats are the kind of thing being stolen so people can improve their home or build a new one.

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. You’re part of the “in” crowd, Lignum. 🙂 In this series, the bus (who’d of thunk???) and Fusterlandia are my off-the-wall favorites. It’s been fun. Now looking forward to wherever you/we go next.


  7. It is interesting to see the sewing is a means to make a living there. Still remember having one of those Singer machines at home, and they can be heavy. Hope you enjoyed that ice-cream 😊

    • It really does seem that Cuba is stuck in the 1950’s when you see all the “antique” equipment still in use there.
      The ice cream tasted just fine. I fitted right in with the other locals eating ice cream there. 🙂

  8. Cuba, … is a place where I would have liked to go one day.
    What I’m afraid of now is that tourism (more and more poopular), the international trade allowed now, are destroying the soul of Cuba.
    In a last report on this country, which I saw recently on television, there were luxury shops, in number …
    Your pictures are wonderful and to meet the photographer of castro must have been an interesting moment for you

  9. You really had fun with this one, and there’s some captivating stuff. 🙂 🙂 The bikes on the bus! I don’t think I’d have noticed if you hadn’t pointed it out. And that wonderful staircase with the headless lady. And so many more! Havana, Um ma ma… my heart is in Havana 🙂

    • My pleasure, Lisa. For me, going through my photos and making these posts brings back some great memories. I’m glad I could share them with you. Have a great day ahead.

  10. Great post, Lignum, you capture a very different side, different spirit, of Cuba with this post and the photos. I love the “pot luck” shot of what you see inside open window, excellent. Great series ~ each unique and telling a story themselves.

  11. It is pretty amazing to realize that there is such place like this, not affected by the new world. I love watching the people in the street, enjoying the luxury of your arts and just staring there without having to say a word.

  12. I wish there was a love button like on facebook. I’m Cuban American and I really loved this post. I hope someday to visit Cuba and see for myself what my family has been talking about. It is such a beautiful island and a wonderful culture. I’m very proud to have cuban blood

  13. My goodness, what an assortment of riches you have here! The 15 mins were well spent on the wall with the writing – the picture is visually stunning; a masterpiece in irony. I’d love to see more from Fusterlandia.

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