Thursday, March 10, 2011

Havana Walk-about

I had to rummage around for a map of the Caribbean; I simply did not know how many islands I had visited. What I did know was this was to be my first visit to Cuba, and I was looking forward to it.

This was a family holiday, and I’m sure I am not the only photographer who has discovered they cannot diligently shoot whilst on holidays; it simply isn’t fair to family or yourself. However, I did swing a camera over my shoulder one afternoon when we loaded onto a bus for a tour of Havana. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour and learning about what was being profiled, particularly the rum factory!

When we would walk from one attraction to another in Old Havana (UNESCO World Heritage Site) I would shoot from the hip. It was very much a run-n-gun; only once did one of our sons have to come back and get me. The black and white photo is the result of my lagging behind; I simply had to have a shot of this great character study.

My first impression of Cuba was one of intrigue. How is possible that a group of people could be so very obviously lacking in what we in the west would consider necessary amenities and effects, and yet be so incredibly happy and apparently contented. It was refreshing and invigorating to observe. For example, directly across the street from the Capitola Building was a family drawing water from some sort of a courtyard reservoir and hoisting the bucket of water up to the third level –presumably to their apartment – of the housing complex.

Away from the entrepreneurship occurring in the tourist district and its facade of freshly painted buildings is the derelict and dilapidated housing that is, well, let’s just suggest it shows it age. Yet, the music is everywhere, kids are dancing to boom boxes and neighbours are laughing and generally enjoying each other’s company. It is in this ramshackle neighbourhood that I find a gentleman and his pup watching the comings-and-goings of the day. A simple point to my camera and he approves with a nod. Unlike his “peso for a photo” compatriots in the tourist district, he asks for nothing but offers a genuine and sincere smile with my poorly pronounced gracious. About a half-dozen steps away I turn around and go back, reach in my pocket and find five peso’s for him and his canine friend. Now I smile and offer a very sincere muchos gracious.

Hopefully as time allows I will show a few more shots from my walk-about in Havana, the ninth Caribbean Island that I have visited ... and the one with the best rum!