Hola amigos! We just got back a week ago from a trip to Cuba and this might be the quickest turnaround on pictures I’ve had! I was so excited to edit my pictures when we got back. Cuba is a beautiful, vibrant country with lovely people. We learned a lot about Cuba’s history and culture while we were there and definitely had a variety of experiences during our trip.
One thing to address right off the bat is that we did not go as tourists, because US citizens cannot go to Cuba as tourists! Our photography group was permitted by the US government to go as a group in support of the Cuban people. Our trip focused on art and culture in Cuba, so we visited a dance troupe one day and visited different artists’ homes while we were there. Originally, this trip really intrigued us because it’s a bit of a forbidden land for us. Since the relations between Cuba and the US have soured a bit in the last couple of years, Mike and I weren’t sure if we’d have another opportunity to go, so we jumped at this chance!
Cuba is a proud country, and they have a lot to be proud of. Their resourcefulness and cleverness is honestly unmatched. However, the one thing I couldn’t get past was that it was necessary to begin with. Cuba has had a tough two years during the pandemic and just reopened for tourists last November. Since so much of their money comes from tourism (not US, but other countries), things were a bit bleak there. Their resourcefulness has come out of necessity because things just aren’t available. Most people probably think of old cars when they think of Cuba, and they were abundant for sure! One example of resourcefulness is that people have managed to keep ’57 Chevrolet Bel-Airs running for the last six decades by cobbling together all kinds of car parts. Once relations originally soured between the US and Cuba, they couldn’t get Chevy or Ford parts on the island anymore. So they’ve made do with Toyota, Honda, and any other parts they can get their hands on! You would probably not find better car mechanics anywhere in the world!
The first day in Cuba, we started with a walking tour of Old Havana (La Habana Vieja). We walked through different streets and alleys, just taking in everything we saw. La Habana Vieja was established in 1519 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its architecture and historical importance. We saw the Plaza de la Catedral where the Catedral de San Cristóbal is located. This cathedral was built in 1700s and is one of eleven Catholic cathedrals on the island. We visited an art studio, the Taller Experimental de Grafica, where we got to watch artists at work and talk to them about their work! We ate lunch at La Bodeguita del Medio, which is said to be the birthplace of the mojito cocktail and a popular hangout for writers, artists, and celebrities over the years. We even got serenaded during our meal by the house band!
After lunch, we visited Habana Compás Dance for a performance from their musicians and dancers. They use Afro-Cuban rhythms and many different styles of dance in their performance. They’ve performed for Mick Jagger and Usher and have performed around the world. They were amazing! Here’s an example of one of their perfomances:
We ended our day at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, where loads of famous guests have stayed over the years. We had a mojito in the Hall of Fame and enjoyed the breeze coming from the Straits of Florida.