Cuba 2014, Days 01-02

3 Mar
 

An Introduction

It feels so good to be back in Cuba! It does not come without one particular challenge, the Internet.

The people are so very friendly, the city sites so wonderful, and the colors and energy palpable. The Internet, however, slogs along at the speed of an injured slug and is extremely expensive, $4/half hour. It is what it is, but if you find us late in a blog, you’ll know why.

This island nation makes up for it in so many ways. As Arnie says, “Whatever you read about Cuba is wrong. It is not terrible; it is not Utopia.” For us, it is so rich in photographic fodder that is entwined in the people-to-people, cultural tours we lead here.

In Miami, it takes about four times as long to prepare for flying to Cuba as it does for the actual one-hour flight across the Straits of Florida to Habana. We get to the airport early so stand in line with fellow, charter-flight passengers, many Cuban or Cuban relatives who are bringing in TVs, bicycles, microwave ovens, medicines, school supplies, etc., etc. Their suitcases are all pre-checked and bubble wrapped to within an inch of their lives. It keeps the items safe from the normal airport pilfering that can happen, regardless of the country.

Our processing was painless, albeit a tad long, except for one of our group whose passport went missing somewhere between home and Miami. Fortunately, it was home and could be FedExed for next-day arrival. Unfortunately, that meant our new friend would be delayed in getting to Habana two days later. He was cheerful and pragmatic about the whole thing, and we waved goodbye to him as he took off to enjoy two days in Miami.

The rest of the group landed in Habana, and we went through customs, never as easy as one would wish in another language. Everyone’s bags arrived, and we made our way by our personal bus to the hotel. On the way, we stopped for our traditional welcome lunch at a nice restaurant in Mirimar, the high-end section of town, and our group started getting to know one another over Havana Specials (a rum cocktail) and food.

At the hotel, dollars were exchanged into CUCs, the Cuban currency for foreigners, and after getting settled in our rooms, we met downstairs and took off walking for dinner, so our group could get a feel for the city.

A special treat was in store. In addition to the scheduled brass band (excellent), The Buena Vista Social Club joined them. This group is legendary, and most of the members are what some might call a little long in the tooth. That said, their playing and singing was top notch, and we were all spellbound at this first-night treat.

Maria, dressed in lime green, Cuban-danced her way back and forth across the floor with her handsome partner who was equally stylish. She twisted this way and that, oozing sex appeal and coquettishness, a bright smile and sparkling eyes lighting up her face. Clearly, she loved to perform, as energy exuded from every fiber of her body.
© 2014 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

Pick any European city, and laundry hanging from windows and railings is part of the scene. “But,” you say, “Cuba is in the Caribbean, not Europe.”

True, but the architecture is often so European in style. The colors, however, are pure Caribbean.
© 2014 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

Everyone loves the vintage cars. They are everywhere, not as relics, but as an integral part of working daily life. Some are taxis, some are used for special occasions, and most are every-day cars, used to get here and there, and treasured, as there is scant opportunity and even scanter funds to get another one. Many of these have seen several generations, and everyone seems to be always working on their cards to keep them in working order.

I saw this one that looked back at me. Arnie and I often see faces in things.
© 2014 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

Humor abounds, perhaps not always intentional, but by the smile on this guy’s face, he clearly was also amused by the toilet-turned –planter being brought outside for the day from its storage by Ché.
© 2014 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

Cuba has put a lot into restoration and maintenance of its amazing buildings and architecture. In some cases, buildings that we crumbling shells have been brought back to life. Others get less drastic make-overs, such as this one getting a fresh coat of paint.
© 2014 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

I love the graphics in this city. For me, as much as Habana is about the people, it is also about the colors and textures as well as the shapes.
© 2014 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

Kids are the same all over. Give them a skirt … er kilt … and they want to see what’s up there as with these two little girls.
© 2014 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

Those graphics I mentioned above, come in all shapes and sizes. I love the lights along the Malecòn, that 7-kilometer-long seawall that borders the Bay of Habana.
© 2014 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

Next: The African Religion and Revisiting the Malecòn

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6 Responses to “Cuba 2014, Days 01-02”

  1. thirdeyemom 03-13-14 at 10:03 PM #

    When were you there? I just returned myself last week on Wednesday. I see your pick from the Buena Vista Social Club show of the woman and male dancer. I went as well! I loved my trip. It was fabulous.

     
    • TBC 03-14-14 at 6:11 AM #

      Nicole,

      We were there first week in March, returning just a week ago today, so we were there at the same time. This was our second trip and third week there, and we will be returning next year with a slightly expanded program. It was great to reconnect with our Cuban friends. What a wonderful country it is. Long past time to get rid of the sanctions, for sure!

      Take care,

      TBC

       
      • thirdeyemom 03-14-14 at 7:51 AM #

        Thanks for the email! So how did you go? I went through another program, but the downfall is I didn’t have much time to focus on photography. I took 1400 pics but most where on the fly while with the group or else in the mornings when I got up early. I would LOVE to go again as I just love Cuba. What a place! Looking forward to reading more of your CUba posts! Nicole

         
        • TBC 03-17-14 at 2:56 PM #

          Nicole,

          We tailor our trips to allow plenty of time for photography along with our people-to-people cultural tours. If you look at the information on our website at http://www.bcphotoadventures.com/Calendar.php, we describe our approach.

          Take care, and do look for more blogs on the latest trip to Cuba as I catch up.

          TBC

           
          • thirdeyemom 03-19-14 at 1:59 PM #

            Thanks! This is wonderful! Looking forward to more of your posts and gorgeous photography. I really loved Cuba. One of my favorite places too for photos.

             
            • TBC 03-19-14 at 2:19 PM #

              Nicole,

              It is always great for an author/blogger to hear positive feedback. Thanks so much for taking the time to write as well as for your compliments! [blush]

              Take care,

              TBC

               

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