My first trip to Havana, Cuba. First impressions one notices is that life is hard in Cuba. They have been cut off from the outside world by their Communist government for the last 55 years, and the people have suffered. Despite their numerous large signs saying Viva Cuba Libre. It seems anything but free. Beautiful, treasured buildings are crumbling and falling into disrepair, sidewalks are dangerous because they are uneven and broken down with holes everywhere. You must watch where you are walking. Cars stop for no one and you must cross the street wherever you can, making sure you don’t get hit. The stores are practically empty, not much to choose from. Despite all this the people are going about their business, they are warm and joyful. 50’s cars are everywhere, the ones that are fixed up, usually convertibles carry tourists with phone cameras in front of their faces. The other old cars are used by locals getting from one part of the city to another. They run up and down the main streets leading down to the Malecon (they call this the couch of Havana) it is a stone wall built by the US Army Corps of Engineers back in the late 1800’s to keep the waves from flooding the streets. It travels along the north and west part of the city. If you walk along the Malecon, you will see fishing boats, old forts, fisherman, children playing, romantic couples and if you stay till sunset there will surely be a great one. The clouds are magnificent against the fantastic European architecture. There are so many Art Deco buildings mixed in with Art Nouveau and Colonial structures. Recently they have started painting many buildings brilliant colors which gives the city an illusion of joy. But upon closer look one cannot help but see the misery. Regardless, people seem resilient and resourceful here, spare parts and materials for restoration are scarce. But small buisinesses are beginning to pop up everywhere. Houses turn into restaurants and night clubs and even antique shops. Tourists are coming in droves, I saw a huge Cruise ship in the Harbor. You can now fly direct from a number of US cities to Havana. I flew from Los Angeles to Havana. Visas are required and I was able to purchase mine at the airport before boarding the plane. The cost was $100.
There is music everywhere, and dancing of course. I believe things will eventually change for the better there but it will take time and money. Hotels need to be built and restored but there are signs for Airb&b’s abundantely scattered throughout the city. I hope to return to Cuba and explore more of the island. Cienfuegos, Santiago and Guantanamo. Here are my photographs from Havana, I love stairwells and I am always on the look out for a new one.
#Cuba #Havana #Stairwells