All posts by mstevensphotography


Something here didn’t look quite right. We (Susan and I) were walking in an area in south Havana, almost to Cerro when I spotted this tourist taxi and driver parked where there are no tourists. Before we even got to the scene a ramp truck drove up. It was then immediately apparent that the car was broken down. We watched the men load the car and drive off. I cannot remember ever seeing a tow truck in Havana before.


Of course most Cubans cannot afford a tow.



The Tres Cubano

The tres  is a guitar-like three-course chordophone of Cuban origin. The most widespread variety of the instrument is the original Cuban tres with six strings. Its sound has become a defining characteristic of the Cuban Son music style and it is commonly played in a variety of Afro-Cuban genres.

Hector Senior

 It seems as though the Tres that my friend Hector senior has played for years was not his. The owner wanted it back while I was there in Trinidad. No problem.  A nice used tres was found and purchased for 125 cuc. I think he actually cried. He said it was a gift from God. I don’t know about that, but it was certainly good luck that I happened to be there at the right time.

If you happen to be in Trinidad, Cuba check out the great sounds of Hector and Hector senior at the Bar Canchanchara.


We Are The Entertainment

We are the entertainment when Cubans see Americans …..

Paying one CUC for the 3 peso coin or bill with the likeness of Che Guevara that’s only worth about 15 cents.


An eight CUC  Cuban cigar that they cannot keep lit.

A backpack filled to capacity with who knows what.

Hand sanitizer hanging from the strap of a backpack. (certainly there is more inside)

A 1.5 liter water bottle in hand to prevent the feared dehydration we were warned about (and because it will not fit into the backpack)

A guide-book or map. (although no one can actually read a map)

A camera hanging around the neck because you were told “it’s safer”. (It will be stolen AFTER you get strangled with it.)

The latest iPhone.

White feet.


A five CUC straw hat.

As much sunscreen as an America’s Cup crew member

Eddie Bauer tropical wear shirts with SPF 50 protection. (Much too hot. This fabric does not breathe)

Zip-off pants of the same material. Of course, they are worn as shorts. (See above.)

The latest Che Guevara tee-shirt. (under the Eddie Bauer 60 dollar tropic weight shirt which is unbuttoned. Again, see above.)

Merrill Gore-Tex hikers or Teva sandals.


For a menu in English.

For a mojito at the Floridita Bar.

For directions to The Capitolio.

“What is in congris?”

“Which way is the Malecon?”

Cubans love to talk and they love to laugh.

We must be entertaining.


Image by Susan Downing.







Down By The River


Chemical waste


All these things, and more, pollute the rivers and streams of Cuba’s cities.

I’ve seen the pollution. I’ve asked people why the rivers are so dirty. Of course they blame the government and they are partly correct, regarding industrial waste and sewage. But I constantly see Cubans drop papers, wrappers, pizza boxes, cans, bottles, cigarette packs, and garbage. It’s a learned behavior that starts when they are children.

The beaches that the locals use are also affected:






Santa Clara

Santa Clara

Santa Clara

Santa Clara

The water here was actually gray!






This church group from Canada makes an annual trip to Cojima to clean trash from the shoreline.

Romnis – “Where You Fron”

If you are walking with a camera in hand, you must be a tourist. At least that’s what most Cubans think and most of the time they are correct. So when I am out photographing with Romnis – –  and I hear “where you fron”, I laugh and let him answer.

This gentleman did not believe that Romnis was Cuban. He pulled out a 20 peso bill and made a bet. Romnis dug out his government I.D. and we all had a good laugh. No money was exchanged.