Trinidad – Workers

vintage cars
On the road into Trinidad a car wash guy takes a rest in in the shade after washing down a precious vintage car .
trinidad bell
In Sancti Spiritus I saw this old man in his rocking chair  keeping cool in the deep shade of the typical Spanish Colonial arcade, I’m not sure what his job was, a door-keeper perhaps. He sits behind an old bell cast with the words Trinidad de Cuba.
street scene
The hat maker and the singer from the band in the pizza restaurant where I was sitting, watch as two policemen examine a man’s papers, whilst a nurse walks past. Inevitably there is a Che Guevara T shirt in view too.
men in tower
There are three men working on the restoration of the tower, all without scaffolding or even ropes.
white boots
White Wellington boots seem to be the latest craze in Cuba, I saw at least three men wearing them or looking at some but I’ve never seen them in Europe.
painting
Cuba is full of colour, this painter tries to keep paint free by wrapping his head in a cloth whilst he rollers the bright blue paint.
hole meding
The old joke about how many people it takes to perform a task is true in Cuba too. How many men did it take to fill this hole, one to actually fill the hole, three to guard him or aide him as he does so and an obligatory passer-by to oversee the whole thing, oh and a photographer to record the occasion. 5 men, one woman.
agrguing
If only I spoke Spanish, these guys were arguing but who knows about what!
garlic seller
A young man stands on a corner wearing his long skeins of garlic like a shawl, he is waiting for his companion who has stopped to sell a string to a customer.
horse
A horse waits patiently in the shade for his owner to do some business.
pavement
I met this crew of pavement workers and asked if I might take their photo, they were very pleased, happily posed for me and made the peace sign.
vegetable cart
This trader has come into town  bringing his wares to sell to Trinidadians. Everything is freshly sourced from his and his neighbours plots.

shoe-shineThe shoe-shine man – a bicyclist stops by for a quick buff-up and a rest in the shade.

shop
The cat watches out for any new customers at this little stall on a side street. On sale are just the few vegetables that the owner has grown in his yard. The sign reads “If you don’t pay now, we are no longer friends”.
tuk-tuk
Tuk-Tuks and motorised CoCos are readily available for hire if you need to get somewhere quickly. They are waiting on every corner and unlike cars and coaches, they can access all parts of the town.

Cuban Chairs

chair
Lounging and slowly rocking on the back legs

All around Cuba people sit outside their houses or businesses, taking advantage of any wafts of cool air. People sit on steps, boxes, curb-stones, wooden stools and if they’re lucky, a favourite chair. Often these chairs look like home-made affairs, ingeniously bent lengths of rebar or other steel rod, forming a basic structure sometimes adorned with flourishes. They are mostly very old, worn, re-painted and above all, well-used.

folding chair
Havana – a new folding aluminium chair in the book market.
chair
Havana – a sturdy imported design, a building site guard’s chair
guard
Havana – building site guard!
chair
Havana – lovely example of a rebar chair with an extra flight of fancy by the maker.
chair
Havana – a 1960’s imported padded chair to sit on in your room behind the grille on a hot night watching the world go by.
chair
Cienfuegos – a modern chair, plastic-coated to protect it from the salt water
bench
Cienfuegos – green decking – so paint your cast iron benches orange!
chair
Cienfuegos – the basic aluminium tube chair have been strung with green plastic tubing, now over-stretched by so much use, today the occupant has chosen a green blouse to complement her chair. A glimpse of a shapely white chair just beyond with a good thick orange-coloured cushion.
chair
Trinidad – A scruffy old chair  with many coats of paint and a new cushion, love the blue.
chair
Trinidad – a comfortable padded, folding chair, with arms too!
chair
Sancti Spiritus – the only rocking chair I saw of this type, it is a fine example, strong and with good details, arms too.
chair
Santi Spiritus – a delightful chair making a good shadow tracing on the ground but no seat!
chair
The owner of this chair, one of four, is standing just to the right, she invited us into her home to see her religious shrines but I loved the fabulously curvy chairs.
chair
Havana – This broken chair is also in her kitchen right by the others, its an interesting design but the stringing is to loose now, I suspect it was her husband’s and he’s no longer there to sit in it.
chair
Havana – A very similar chair but with steel rods instead of plastic tubing, this one belongs to a Tarot card reader who invited us into her home,t has an interesting little flourish along the top.
chair
Havana – another chair belong to the tarot reader, this is a great rocker and the green tubing is a good contrast to the aluminium tube frame, bolted together.
bench
Havana – a bench made from iron strapping, – again the first i’d seen. It was in a zoned off district belong to a revolutionary group.
chair
Havana – another chair in the Revolutionaries street, tucked away in a bath set into a niche in a wall
chair
Vinales – a friend photographed this one for me as I didn’t make it to Vinales, it belonged to the tobacco grower whom they visited. It reminds me of summer, tennis and lemonade! And there’s a face in the back, eyes high up and a long round-ended nose that seems o be upside down!

Cuba – Cienfuegos and the road to Trinidad

slogan
Your example lives – Your ideas will last.  A permanent reminder of Che Guevara, with his iconic image high above the main  square opposite the Cathedral
Cienfuegos
The Cathedral and boys, all wearing red caps.
transport
Of course there are cars and plenty of gorgeous vintage cars from 50’s and 60’s but the streets are filled with bicycles, horses and carts of all kinds as well as pedestrians.
woman in doorway
I thought I was taking a photo of a dark doorway but I lightened the image a little and discovered that I had caught a woman in the shadow who was obviously crying and upset. I hope I didn’t intrude.
blue building
Cuba IS colour, a building painted blue as blue can be with a matching car parked outside, who could resist. I waited for a figure to walk into the archway so that he would be silhouetted against the sunlit wall behind.
bars and mojitos
One of the many traditional bars we visited in Cuba, mojitos were the favorite drink, white rum, brown sugar, lots of fresh mint, ice and soda, refreshing and notso strong that you had to stop at one.
distant mountains
Not sure of this exact location but an expansive view of a green valley and blue mountains, I followed the rule of including foreground interest, it seems to work well here. I believe the tree at the top is a Framboyan which produces large seed pods that can be used as a rattle when dried.  In the museum of Religion in Havana, we saw an example that had been painted with colourful geometric patterns.
horseback dad
A dad bringing his daughter home on horseback, he is a farmer and kindly showed us around his small-holding.
sewing machine
The farmer’s 1950’s treadle sewing machine, still in use and kept outside, but there’s no rust despite the humidity, plenty of oil is the secret. And the chair made from rebar like many others in Cuba.
horseback rider
Craggy good looks and an amazing jawline, he could be the next big thing in men’s clothing modelling. he seemed unfazed by being asked to pose on his horse for us.
small-holding
Sugar cane crops seen against the distant mountains, he also kept livestock, rare breed pigs, chickens and sheep.
roadside food stalls
Out on the road again, a common sight are stalls and carts selling local produce, freshly picked vegetable of all kinds and home-butchered meat just lying spread out on a board. It seems so alien to us, all used to our supermarket pristine, wrapped meats or in an organic butcher’s shop.
Most produce in Cuba is sold in this way, even in the towns the shops are very basic, mostly without refrigeration. Of course that means that as only small quantities are available each day, everything is truly fresh.

Cuba – more Havana

old paint
Why bother to paint a door when it looks as interesting as this one and still does its job. Ada in flat A has great style.
Food store
There is a real divide between products for sale to Cubans and those for tourists, even separate currencies, the Cuban shops are sparse and dark with only whatever happens to be available that day for sale. These shops are not for tourists, there are dual currencies inCuba, the Cuban Peso for locals and the Convertible Pesos for tourists, (CUC) There are 25 pesos too one CUC, £1 will buy you around 1.5 CUC. 
old Havana
Havana has been immensely wealthy at various times in the past, here is sad evidence of grand colonnial architecture suffering from neglect.
street artists
Streets artists draw their surroundings for tourists and ask just a few pesos for their work.
contrast
A city of contrasts, as in any place anywhere, it is most striking between the old and the young
Women
Women dress up in more-or-less traditional colourful costumes and parade around often with a large cigar in their mouths, hoping that tourists will offer them a few pesos to take their photos.
Revolution Square
Revolution Square, a vast empty square – plenty of space for the tourist coaches in high season. The vintage cars chase each other around the square, showing off their shiny curves in front of the iconic face of Che Guevera keeping lookout above.
restaurant workers
These  restaurant workers have come outside for a well-deserved breath of fresh air, the two men are oblivious but the woman is understandably unhappy that I am taking their photograph, though I had tried to be inconspicuous, shooting from the hip. She’s too canny for that to have passed her by.
grilles
Every house has grilles over the windows, often intricate and delicate-looking designs. The windows are rarely glazed but have internal wooden shutters.
grilles
Here the metal bars have been adapted to fit the space to be secured. Frequently there are door sections too and even space cut out for air conditioners.
Vintage cars
Vintage cars are highly prized possessions passed down through 3 generations. Emilio runs his grandfather’s car, bought new in the 50’s as a taxi/sightseeing service, he says its a nightmare to keep it on the road, its so hard to get parts but the body and upholstery he keeps in good condition. The petrol consumption is huge, hence the prices the tourists must pay, though a half hour trip is still a bargain compared to London fares.
decay
A typical street in old Havana, regeneration is painfully slow, materials abandoned and rusting in the roadway.
vintage motorcycle
This guy polishes his vintage motorcycle which provides him with a livelihood
bicycle taxis
Bicycle taxis abound, ad- hoc constructions made from recycled metal components and topped off with jaunty awnings to protect the passengers from the midday sun.
courtyard
Muh of Havana is built on the pattern of houses in a block built around a central courtyard, here filled with smoke from an open fire.
pool
Dawn from the roof-top pool of one of the hotels in central Havana which have been re-vamped for tourists demanding international standards of amenities.There is a vast divide between the sumptuous surroundings on this roof-top and the palpable material poverty in the streets below.

CUBA

CubaThe stories are true, Cuba is passion, heat, decay, music and vintage cars but so much more. After a regrettably short visit my mind and my mind’s eye are bursting with sounds and colours, people and sensations. I travelled with a small group of keen photographers in a coach over dusty pock-marked roads from Havana to CienFuego, to Trinidad and Santa Clara and finally back to Havana. My amigos also visited Vinales but a short interlude with the excellent Cuban health system prevented me from joining them. Frui runs holidays (with a photographic tutor) to Cuba and many other great destinations.

We flourished in the expert guidance of Giselle our Cuban chaperone and our driver Candito, who both went far beyond the call of duty to find us the perfect places and situations for our photographic purposes.

Cuba is not an easy country to understand, its history is complex and thrilling. Stuck as it is with the US trade embargo still in place, the Cubans are short of all sorts of modern and everyday products which are so familiar to us. Cuba is not short of welcome and rhythm. The salsa beat is with you day and night, sit down in a cafe and within moments a live band will be serenading you and musicians set up in the street in the most unlikely places. Tourism is Cuba ‘s money-maker, life there will change very quickly when the Castro dynasty ends, tourism will be the big draw for foreign entrepreneurs, who no doubt will suck away all the profits leaving the Cubans to make what they can with an infra-structure that has been starved of regeneration funds for more than 50 years.

Havana

Happy to be potographed for a small fee of 5 Cuban Pesos (c. 2p)
Happy to be photographed for a small fee of 5 Cuban Pesos (c. 2p)
There are not many new books to be had but there are good libraries and second-hand book stalls and shops abound.
There are not many new books to be had but there are good libraries and second-hand book stalls and shops abound.
Cuban life is lived on the streets, everyone has a chair or a box to sit on.
Cuban life is lived on the streets, everyone has a chair or a box to sit on.
Dusk
Dusk
Dawn
Dawn
1930's Bacardi building and vintage car
1930’s Bacardi building and vintage car
Spanish colonial style arcades provide welcome shelter from the sun as well as torrential rain. Tiny shops open at random selling hot drinks or cakes.
Spanish colonial style arcades provide welcome shelter from the sun as well as torrential rain. Tiny shops open at random selling hot drinks or cakes.
The heat and humidity slows you down, nothing is done in a rush, sit a while on a bench and enjoy the banter
The heat and humidity slows you down, nothing is done in a rush, sit a while on a bench and enjoy the banter
Education is free for everyone, school uniform included.
Education is free for everyone, school uniform included.
There is music playing everywhere, even outside this long-abandoned building supposedly being re-constructed.
There is music playing everywhere, even outside this long-abandoned building supposedly being re-constructed.