“You went to Cuba in August? ”
” Was it hot?”
” How hot was it? ”
These are usually the first three questions I get.
Yes, I went to Cuba in August. When it wasn’t hot, it was hotter. I really don’t know what the temperature was. Partly because it’s measured in degrees Celsius there and partly because I didn’t want to know. It won’t kill you. People live there.
Some of the secrets to beating the heat:
Sit in the shade …. duh!
Sit in the shade and read.
Sit in the shade and sleep. (even if you are a security guard)
Lie in the shade.
Lie in the shade and sleep.
Stay inside (shade) and watch the tourists.
Stay inside (shade) and drink.
Have a shaved ice drink. (in the shade)
Go for a ride. (no shade)
Wait for it to rain.
Or ….. my favorite, go out after dark.
Yes, I still get scammed. Most times I’ve heard it before and I can see it coming.
( Check out:https://mstevensphotography.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/the-baby-milk-scam/)
This time the “hook” was different.
It started the same way, with a friendly “where you fron?” Then quickly went to posing for photos.
The hook was the five or six old 8 x 10 black and white photos this woman had in a notebook. Being a photographer, I was, of course, very interested. She took her time showing me while her friend was offering to take me to a merchant (or museum … it was not clear) where I could see more.
When I declined to follow them to this unknown place, the gentleman offered to write the address for me. He quickly moved to the outdoor bar that was very close and asked the bartender for pen and paper. I was getting a little impatient as he took his time writing directions.
Before he was finished, three mojitos appeared on the bar. These two wasted no time grabbing their drinks and started sucking them down as the bartender laid a bill for 12 CUC next to my drink.
I’d been had! What to do now?
I Raised my voice and in my best “John Wayne” and my worst Spanish I said “I didn’t order, I’m not paying”.
The couple looked at me and drank faster. The bartender looked at them. I looked at the bartender. I never touched my drink. With a dismissive hand gesture, I turned and walked away chuckling, telling myself “don’t look back”.
Sometimes people want you to take their photograph.
They may yell “foto, foto” or they may give you the two finger salute as they smile and pose. Of course you’re pegged as a tourist at first sight, so they assume you have money. Some ask for a CUC, but as often as not, they just want to talk.
This man is 83 years old. He sells an assortment of plumbing fixtures out of his doorway on the street Maximo Gomez (Monte).
I liked the light on this young man’s face so I offered him some gum.
These teenagers were not really in the mood for a photo, but the girl in the foreground on the left spoke English. She was visiting from Miami and was showing off for her friends by chatting with me.
This rowdy bunch was drinking at 10:30 am. I walked past them as they shouted “foto” so I turned and made this image. I did not stop.
This gentleman waved me over as I was passing. He made a motion to indicate I should take his photo. I made three or four images and tried to speak with him, but he never stopped laughing.
When is the last time you saw children playing hopscotch? It is not uncommon in Havana. This timeless game is played the world over with many variations.
In the Havana municipality of Regla is the hill of Lenin. At 25 meters, the hill is the highest point within several kilometers. Great views of La Habana can be had from the summit.
On this site is a bronze sculpture of Lenin’s face created by the Cuban artist Thelma Marin. Surrounding the bronze sculpture are twelve white human figures, symbolizing solidarity with the October Revolution in Russia
Landscapes take time.
Time to scout.
Time to learn:
– where to be to find an interesting subject and a composition.
– when to be there …. the season, month, day, and hour.
– what light you want …. morning, evening, or something in between.
So you go, armed with all your knowledge, and then you are still at the mercy of the weather.
Sometimes you get shut out, but sometimes you get lucky.
Having been to Vinales, Cuba only twice before, I considered myself lucky on the third trip.
We had some delicate valley fog one morning so four of us grabbed a taxi and offered the driver some money to take us about 4 miles out of town and drop us off. We planned to walk back and shoot on the way. It took some explaining to convince the driver that we were serious.
It’s rare that I see anyone reading a book in public. Even I prefer to read on a tablet.
When I happened upon this gentleman sitting on the seawall along the Malecón, I noticed that he was reading. But he was not “reading” on a tablet or a phone. He had a comic book the size of the average paperback. It was, of course all in Spanish.
He insisted that I photograph him.