I just returned to Cuba 15 years since my previous visit. I had a great time there, meeting old and new friends, reviving sweet souvenirs, making fresh and lively experiences.
15 years are quite a period of time even in the timeless Cuba. The island has undergone significant socio-economic changes. There is now more room for private economic initiatives, wider access to tourism-related financial resources. The improved access to the Internet epitomizes the ongoing dynamic. Cuban authorities envision that half of the Cuban homes will be connected to broadband Internet by 2020.
Cuba recently hit the headlines of international medias early July 2015 in the wake of the re-establisment of US-Cuban diplomatic relations after 54 years of cold war, followed by the re-opening of their respective embassies. Most features of the US trade embargo are maintained though. A possible full normalisation of US-Cuban diplomatic ties will take years.
Unsurprisingly, I do not witness much high-level diplomacy during my recent stay in Cuba. In turn, Havana is preparing the forthcoming visit of the Pope Francis in September 2015. Many buildings where he is to go and see are now re-hauled.
Pope Francis facilitated the discrete diplomacy having led to the US-Cuban rapprochement. His forthcoming visit only reinforces the general feeling of a historical momentum. While the 1998 visit of Pope Jean-Paul II helped restoring Christmas as official holiday in Cuba, many Cubans hope nowadays for more substantial changes in their daily lives.
Cuban people nurture bold socio-economic expectations about the future, related primarily to their very modest wage and retirement schemes. The growing joint-venture business in Cuba illustrates blatantly the discrepancies between local and international wages. Even in Cuba, economic development requires also a stronger purchasing power of the resident population.
I loved my recent stay in Cuba – possibly more than the previous ones. My photographic journey reports on the social and economic fabrics. It attempts reflecting the unique mixture of vintage and contemporary facets of this society. I hope that my pictures mirrors my fondness for its rich and vivid culture.
Havana proudly nurtures a strong sense of a capital city of a colourful country. So much is going on there, and so much more than in other places of the island.
Unlike previous stays, I settle in the Old Havana (Habana Vieja) this time. I am very happy I did so, as it allows me tuning with the vibrant street life prevailing there. I feel simply closer to local people’s lifestyle.
Consequently, my photography reports on Old Havana and the neighbouring Centre Havana (Centro Habana) areas. Topics covered include portraits indeed, but also more broadly street life including leisure activity and street art as well as historical buildings and vintage cars. It mixes black-and-white and colour frames to suggest the close connection between historical and contemporary aspects of Cuban society.
I won’t add many coups de plume to the 80 pictures presented hereafter in order to preserve the fluidity of their sequence. Anyway, the best travel explanations and comments are gathered through our own travel experience. Enjoy the photographic journey!
The second part of my Havana photography follows here.
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