…it does not get any better than that!

This week I returned from a three week trip to Cuba. I traveled from Havana to Santa Clara, Trinidad and Cienfuegos. All went well and I had an enjoyable stay. Photography wise I could have limited my traveling to Havana and Trinidad, as the people and environments were strongest to photograph there.

Hanging out at the Malecón.

The Malecón, the 8 km long boulevard along the coastline of Havana, is a wonderful place to stroll along and watch people hanging out, swimming and fishing. I spent much time on the Malecón on early mornings and sunset evenings.

The people of Cuba have in general no problem with taking photographs of them. They are very friendly and were always ready for a chat to practice their English or help me with my Spanish skills. Their curiosity is enormous, and they are always interested to know where you come from, what your name is, what you think of Cuba and of course if you are interested to buy cigars.

An old woman over-thinking her daily worries.

Compared with my first trip to Cuba in 2002 I can see many differences. Obviously the Dollar has been exchanged for the Euro. The number of old American cars has decreased and been replaced by new Korean cars. There are more modern shops, supermarkets and fancy restaurants, although for the local people there is still a limited possibility to purchase goods (an average pension is about 9 Euro a month and a young cigar roller earns about 6 Euro a month.) The mobile network works well through big part of the country, but not many locals use a mobile phone. Internet access is widely available for foreigners in hotels or the Etecsa (energy and communications company) offices.

What has remained is the charm. It is enjoyable to walk the streets in the evening and watch the people play a game of chess or domino, while others watch and throw in various advices. And sometimes an odd stranger walks by, dressed in cameras, but that does not take away the concentration on the domino stones…

Domino is the national game.

If you are interested, my website is updated with new Cuba galleries (www.renetimmermans.com), but more will come on this blog in the coming weeks as well…