Top Ten Cuba

Cuba has been the news these past few days following an announcement from the Trump White House that U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba will be rolled back to pre-Obama levels.  This saddens me, although I should clarify that Cuba was never fully open to Americans, anyway.  For one thing, American credit and debit cards still do not work in Cuba.  For another thing, travel requires a reciprocal visa and is supposed to fall into one of 12 categories (click here for more information, and check back often, as policies are subject to change).

This is all too bad.  Cuba is not our enemy, and nor is its leader, Raúl Castro, who took over for his more notorious brother roughly ten years ago.  But Raúl has promised to step down in 2018, so who knows what the future brings?

I love Cuba, and it takes at least two hands to count off the number of things I like about the country.  Below, after much nostalgic deliberation, is my Cuba top ten:

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Cuba Photo Gallery: The People

I have not, historically speaking, been good at photographing people.  From time to time, I’d notice a person during my travels who had that photogenic something that I knew needed to be captured, and – after getting their permission – I would try my best to photograph them, being cognizant of their time and any cultural sensitivities.  I always made it a point to show them the picture afterwards, and frequently offered to email them a copy of the image.

The results were mixed, however.  That gap-toothed Asian woman along the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall?  I captured the smile but zoomed in too much.  The curious boy standing near the Istanbul tram that ran through Sultanahmet?  He posed, soldier-like, but I forgot to crouch down to his level, and his head appeared the size of a giant pumpkin.

I have gotten better, however.  I felt especially brave – and as curious as that young Turkish kid – while exploring Cuba, and snapped dozens upon dozens of pics of Cuban locals going about their business.  Fishing, singing, selling, relaxing.  The camera gods smiled upon me those three incredible weeks.  Here are some of my favorite shots, along with any relevant commentary:

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A Few Paragraphs about Cuba

It has been less than one week since I journeyed from Havana to Mexico City, and it has been just two full days since I returned home to Tennessee from there.  I was gone for six weeks, and whenever I settle back in to my normal routine following a trip of similar length, it always feels as if everything “back home” has changed, even though it usually hasn’t.

I am in the early stages of reviewing and labeling the over 6,000 photos that I took during my travels.  That is going to take awhile, to put it mildly, but I did eyeball my pics, looking for a few images that were representative of each place I visited.  This was, suffice to say, not an easy task.  I have much to say about the “real” Cuba, and some strong opinions about “Cuba for tourists” vs. “Cuba for locals.”  These stories will manifest themselves in time, and will be interspersed with tales about my first trip back to Mexico since I left there in July, 2014.

But to whet your appetite and to find a starting point for my own storytelling, I thought I’d write just a few paragraphs about Cuba – one per city visited, let’s say – and post a few pictures as well.

Enjoy…and thanks for reading!

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