Cuba was a special experience for me. Santa Fe Photographic Workshops and Arthur Meyerson did a marvelous job arranging for us to meet the Cuban people and to experience how they live. We where encouraged to go out on our own to meet and talk to the Cuban people. I can say all the ones I meet and talked to where really nice people. While some could speak English, others did not, so we had to work our way through the conversation. Luckily, our guides could assist with the language if needed. To see the architecture and the cars was like stepping back in time.
Our Cuban photographers where Jorge Gavilondo and Carlos Otero. That got us in places that most tourist would not get into. Like two dance companies where they preformed just for our group. During the performance we where able to photograph them. It was breathtaking performance and to be able to photograph them was wonderful, what an experience.
A typical day for the group would start at 6:45 am to do “dawn patrol”; photographing until 8:00 am. After breakfast at the hotel we would download what was shot. The group would go out again between 9-10am, coming back to each lunch where ever we wished and to down load our photos again. Between 3-4pm, we went as a group to photograph for a couple of hours. After downloading the photos from the group shoot it was free time. Most of us went out again at sunset to capture the light on the buildings and people. Once we ate dinner it was back to work editing all of the photos from the day’s work. We did so much in such a short amount of time and had an incredible experience. I shot over 5500 photos in 6 days.
Here is some information on Cuba.
Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba Spanish: República de Cuba, , is an island country in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba comprises the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the capital of Cuba and its largest city. The second largest city is Santiago de Cuba. To the north of Cuba lies the United States (145 km or 90 mi away) and the Bahamas are to the northeast, Mexico is to the west (210 km or 130 mi away), the Cayman Islands and Jamaica are to the south, and Haiti and the Dominican Republic are to the southeast.
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, and with over 11 million inhabitants, is the second-most populous after Hispaniola, albeit with a much lower population density than most nations in the region. A multiethnic country, its people, culture, and customs derive from diverse origins, including the aboriginal Taíno and Ciboney peoples, the long period of Spanish colonialism, the introduction of African slaves, a close relationship with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and close proximity to the United States.
Tourism was initially restricted to enclave resorts where tourists would be segregated from Cuban society, referred to as “enclave tourism” and “tourism apartheid”. Contacts between foreign visitors and ordinary Cubans were de facto illegal between 1992 and 1997. The rapid growth of tourism during the Special Period had widespread social and economic repercussions in Cuba, and led to speculation about the emergence of a two-tier economy.
Cuba has tripled its market share of Caribbean tourism in the last decade; as a result of significant investment in tourism infrastructure, this growth rate is predicted to continue.[ 1.9 million tourists visited Cuba in 2003, predominantly from Canada and the European Union, generating revenue of $2.1 billion. Cuba recorded 2,688,000 international tourists in 2011, the third-highest figure in the Caribbean (behind the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico).
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of (281.18 sq mi) − making it the largest city by area, the most populous city, and the third largest metropolitan area in the Caribbean region. The city extends mostly westward and southward from the bay, which is entered through a narrow inlet and which divides into three main harbours: Marimelena, Guanabacoa and Atarés. The sluggish Almendares River traverses the city from south to north, entering the Straits of Florida a few miles west of the bay.
Old Havana, contains the core of the original city of Havana, with more than 2,000 hectares it exhibits almost all the Western architectural styles seen in the New World. La Habana Vieja was founded by the Spanish in 1519 in the natural harbor of the Bay of Havana. It became a stopping point for the treasure laden Spanish Galleons on the crossing between the New World and the Old World. In the 17th century it was one of the main shipbuilding centers. The city was built in baroque and neoclassic style.
Many buildings have fallen in ruin but a number are being restored. The narrow streets of old Havana contain many buildings, accounting for perhaps as many as one-third of the approximately 3,000 buildings found in Old Havana.
Old Havana is the ancient city formed from the port, the official center and the Plaza de Armas. Alejo Carpentier called Old Havana the place "de las columnas" (of the columns). The Cuban government is taking many steps to preserve and to restore Old Havana, through the Office of the city historian, directed by Eusebio Leal. Old Havana and its fortifications were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1982.
Cuban music is very rich and is the most commonly known expression of culture. The central form of this music isSon, which has been the basis of many other musical styles like salsa, rumba and mambo and an upbeat derivation of the rumba, the cha-cha-cha. Rumba music originated in early Afro-Cuban culture. The Tres was also invented in Cuba, but other traditional Cuban instruments are of African origin, Taíno origin, or both, such as the maracas,güiro, marimba and various wooden drums including the mayohuacan.
Popular Cuban music of all styles has been enjoyed and praised widely across the world. Cuban classical music, which includes music with strong African and European influences, and features symphonic works as well as music for soloists, has received international acclaim thanks to composers like Ernesto Lecuona. Havana was the heart of therap scene in Cuba when it began in the 1990s.
Cuban cuisine is a fusion of Spanish and Caribbean cuisines. Cuban recipes share spices and techniques with Spanish cooking, with some Caribbean influence in spice and flavor. Food rationing, which has been the norm in Cuba for the last four decades, restricts the common availability of these dishes. The traditional Cuban meal is not served incourses; all food items are served at the same time.
The typical meal could consist of plantains, black beans and rice, ropa vieja (shredded beef), Cuban bread, pork with onions, and tropical fruits. Black beans and rice, referred to as Moros y Cristianos (or moros for short), and plantains are staples of the Cuban diet. Many of the meat dishes are cooked slowly with light sauces. Garlic, cumin, oregano, and bay leaves are the dominant spices.
Viñales Valley is a karstic depression in Cuba. The valley has an area of (51 sq mi) and is located in the Sierra de los Órganos mountains (part of Guaniguanico range), just north of Viñalesm in the Pinar del Río Province.
Tobacco and other crops are cultivated on the bottom of the valley, mostly by traditional agriculture techniques. Many caves dot the surrounding hillfaces (Cueva del Indio, Cueva de José Miguel).
The conspicuous cliffs rising like islands from the bottom of the valley are called mogotes.
Viñales is a major tourist destination offering mainly hiking and rock climbing. The local climbing scene has started to take off in the last few years with many new routes being discovered resulting in an increase in local tourism.
Here are some of my photos from the trip. Enjoy
A Cuban House
Living in Cuba
People in Cuba
Tobacco for Cigars