Havana Nights

This collection of  images  was submitted to the International Photographic Competition of the Professional Photographers of America in August of 2018 and judged as a non-event album .

These images were made in Havana during 2017 and the first half of 2018. Most were hand-held and shot at a very high ISO with only the available light. Nothing was posed or set up because I wanted to capture the mood of the city after dark.

 

The Way To San Jose

My friend Yoel was in Havana for a few days working on the roof of his sister’s house. He invited me back to the family farm ( https://wp.me/p4fUlX-HH)  with him when he returned home. He insisted that we travel economically, like a Cuban.

To travel the 48 km to San Jose de Las Lajas from Havana like an average Cuban would, you first have to get to where the Taxi Collectivos pick up passengers for San Jose. You can walk or take a Cuban taxi for 10 pesos (CUP).

We sat in the back of this “Jeep” in seats that faced each other.

The taxi collectivos that go to San Jose are large trucks that hold 12 – 20 people and they don’t leave until they are full.

This was our actual ride.

While waiting to leave Havana we had to sit with the sun streaming through the windows and beating down on the roof. Others had boarded before us and taken all the seats on the shady side of the truck.

A few seconds of the bumpy ride.

The parking area for the taxis is next to the train station near the center of town.

 

The farm of Yoel’s family is another 8 km south. We waited 20 minutes (in the shade) for this bus to come. It dropped us off 500 meters from our destination.

Total travel time – two hours. (one way)

I think often about Enoel, the father of Yoel, and his battle with kidney stones. He had to make this trip to the hospital in Havana several times over the course of two months. The last few times he had a tube coming out of his back to drain fluid into a collection bag.

More on that story in another post.

Where They Live – Franco

Franco is quite a character. Always moving and always talking, he  calls himself an importer. His store, where he sells religious articles, can be found on Calle Gervasio in Centro Havana.

 

Franco also has for sale many antiques that he has accumulated over the years.

A long hallway, exposed to the sky, leads to his apartment.

Modest accommodations.

Well equipped kitchen.

Franco and his daughter.

The Guitar

After one too many rums on another visit to Trinidad, Cuba, I heard myself promise again that I would bring a guitar for Hector.

Hector and I have been friends for over three years. He is the leader of a high energy group that plays their own versions of traditional and “Son” Cuban music.

Hector has never had his own guitar.  Instead, he had to rent one or use the “house” guitar at what ever restaurant the group was performing.

When Hector wrote to tell me that he and Yanet were marrying, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass. I purchased a guitar for my Cuban friend. It would be a wedding present. Having his own guitar would allow Hector to earn more money and be more independent.

Simple ceremony with a justice of the peace.

At the club before the wedding.

 

 

Yo Soy Fidel

While not the official government propaganda, many hand-painted signs can be found in Havana and other cities.

Yo Soy Fidel is particularly cleaver. It translates to – I am Fidel (Castro) and also I am faithful (to the revolution, to Castro)

I have encountered many older Cubans who continue to believe that Castro has improved their lives and if it were not for the revolution,  they would not have survived.