A trip to Cuba in twenty pictures

Posted: 10-Jun-16 11:25

Inspired by his first visit to Cuba, an American author and photographer is sharing highlights of his trip to the island nation in 20 unique photographs. From close-ups of nature to Cuban streets and locals going about their everyday lives, the blogger highlights his experiences for readers in an online photo essay.

A trip to Cuba in twenty pictures

Recently back from his travels to Cuba, a U.S.-based writer and photographer reveals his unique journey in a series of photos published on his online travel blog. Jim O’Donnell worked with Espiritu Travel to capture the experience, highlighted for readers in a 6 June blog posted on aroundtheworldineightyears.com.

Many of the photographs depict everyday life in Cuba, and O'Donnell is not the exception. He starts his report with a picture taken from the middle of a steep street, with the sun setting over Santiago de Cuba. The narrow street of tightly packed, pastel-coloured buildings leads down to the shore, with just a few pedestrians on a Friday night.

The trend of street shots continues with a man carrying fish, kids playing soccer in the street, neighbours in conversation, two people sharing some rum and a man who had been working on his vintage-model car. He explains the brightly painted homes were part of what drew him to take the picture.

In Havana a photo shows the view across a main street, again surrounded by multi-story, pastel-coloured buildings, with arched doorways on the street level, topped off by a series of expansive balconies and clothing hanging out to dry in the warm sea air. A towering palm tree and a handful of pedestrians, as well as two vehicles, one of which is a water delivery truck, complete the shot.

A unique cosmos

Later on another picture explains why water trucks are needed, shot from a rooftop filled with large tanks in Bayamo. The country has an aging infrastructure, highlighted by leaky and broken pipes and has additionally dealt with a severe drought for several years. Tens of thousands of Cubans in Santiago de Cuba and Havana rely on water delivery, pumped directly up for storage in oversized tanks on the rooftops of their homes.

Three boys laugh and smile in another pictures, playing soccer in eastern Cuba on a Baracoa street. While the photographer had hoped to capture a game of Cuban baseball, he recalls he only saw it played by some military personnel, and taking their picture was not permitted.

Two young boys capture the photographer’s attention in another way, a more solemn occasion as the boys hold votos, blessed by a priest at the Catholic shrine of El Sanctuario de Nuestra Senora de la Caridad del Cobre. The boys had planned to offer the votos to the Virgin of Charity in efforts to heal the illness of a family member. The small wooden statues represent the patron saint said to have saved three fishermen caught in a devastating hurricane in the 1600s. Locals today commonly visit the shrine seeking protection.

Cuba daily life

In another captured moment, a young couple relaxes against each other in a casual way while lounging along the Malecon. The area is noted as a fantastic location for people watching.

Other pictures show adults trying to make a living, such as a man selling plastic sunflower bouquets from a busy Havana corner. Curiously, just after the photograph was taken a truck full of women pulled up and took the bouquets away.

Meanwhile, an additional picture shows a fisherman at work, casting a wide net off the rocks just below the Malecon. The man said he was hoping to catch sardines, joking that when it comes to larger fish, “The big fish know to keep a safe distance from Cubans!” The author makes note he was told time and time again that Cubans would eat most anything, which he attributes to the 1990s when there wasn’t much food available.

At a paladar in Havana, a close up shot of two chefs shows them hard at work in the kitchen of Restaurante Venami. Noted for their thin crust pizza, the place is recommended more so than other touristy and spacious dining location in the area.

In a comical post, a picture shows two Cuban cowboys, decked out in cowboy hats and blue jeans in Trinidad. He uses this photograph to document the absurdity of tourists and locals collectively people watching each other. While he documented the cowboys silently passing, then laughing at a group of Chinese tourists decked out in latex gloves, surgical masks and wielding paper maps, a Cuban woman took time out to watch the photographer, giving both of them a good laugh over the entire ordeal.

Two more shots show birds, one of them is a colourful bird with vibrant red, white and blue. A nature guide named Rainer from Espiritu Travel pointed the bird out while visiting Topes de Collantes Nature Reserve. Because the Cuban Trogan, or Tocororo, is the same colours as Cuba’s flag it’s known as the country’s national bird. Althought the author doen't point it out, Cuba is a paradise for birdwatching lovers.

Along with the photographs, O’Donnell also uses this opportunity to reply to comments he says he had received the most from Americans since returning from his trip, mostly people remarking that Cuba must have changed a lot from what it used to be. While he could not speak to that, seeing as he’d never visited Cuba before, he did say he felt Cuba was likely very close to undergoing a large change.

Here, he also referenced a conversation he had with a 23-year-old woman in Baracoa who maintained her country would never change. By the time she turned 30, he replied, Cuba would be very different. While he could not say whether that was a good or a bad thing, he felt for Cubans, change is most certainly coming.


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