Havana Vieja–atmospheric and tidy–is where you go with your tour group. Vedado is where you sleep, in five-starred splendor or in a mansion-turned-casa particular. It’s in the streets of Havana Centro, though, where you go to for a glimpse of the real city. It’s a place for encounters in black and white.
Anita and I were in Havana during the period of official mourning for Fidel Castro, and streets of Centro were quiet–no music, no dancing in the streets. Instead, we met kids and grandmas, vendors and shoppers, Cubans going about their daily lives. Several invited us in–welcoming us into homes hand-crafted into barely standing architectural relics along San Rafael, San Miguel and nearby cross streets.
We took a lot of photos in Havana Centro. Here are my favorites of the lot.
You’ve captured some great images of a beautiful people. What an interesting time to be in Cuba.
Yes Nathalie, it was very interesting! The first nine days of our trip were the days of mourning for Fidel. Even after that life seemed subdued compared to what I had expected from Cuba.
Great photos of Havana and its people. Being there during the days of mourning for Fidel would have been an interesting experience. I saw Havana briefly thirteen years ago on a day trip from a Varadero resort. It is a fascinating city.
Thank you Donna. Several of the older people really believed that Fidel had done a lot for the country.
Wow, incredible photos! Black and white was a great choice to capture the feel of Havana.
Thank you Gypsy Nesters. I thought that the Black & White added character to the poor conditions in the Centro neighborhood. The people were wonderful, we were invited into three homes.
What wonderful pictures! I wonder if Havana will still look like that in a few years’ time – I suspect that change may happen fast.
Hi Karen, Cuba will not change anytime soon. The deterioration of 60 years, the lack of infrastructure, an oppressive totalitarian regime, and the lack of know-how and will is not something to be easily changed even if all the money in the world were applied to rebuilding.
Thanks for your perspective Aysha. I suspect you may well be right.
What wonderful photos Tom. They certainly give us a glimpse into every day life in Cuba. It must have been fascinating to be there during this mourning period. Change is afoot and you’re very lucky to have seen the country before these changes occur.
It was indeed a fascinating time to be in Cuba, Jenny. However, as Aysha mentioned in her response to another comment, there are many factors that will likely inhibit rapid change.
Tom, Such a pleasure to see how you’ve captured the despair, the boredom, the familial pride and what is both deeply touching and disturbing about Habana Centro, and this isn’t even the poor part of the city! Thank you for having shared some of the stories of these people you and Anita encountered while we were together on our tour (www.CubaForWriters.com). I look forward to more from you both about your insights into Cuba.
Thanks Aysha. What impressed us most was the familial pride and warm welcome of the folks we met in Centro. And although there are surely poorer parts of the city, it’s notable that the daily lives of the people we met are in sharp contrast to those of the tourists crowding into Habana Vieja just blocks away.
Excellent work! You really captured the essence of the people!!
Thank you Marilyn. After our time meeting people in Centro, we felt privileged to have seen the “real Havana”.