The essence of Cuba-my top 10 images

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Last updated on December 26th, 2017

Trying to capture the essence of Cuba through my images

Cuba can be overwhelming in many ways. It is a country of many striking images. Many contradictions and emotions that tap into your inner-most sensitive side. As I mentioned in my other blog post on Cuba,

No matter how emotionally prepared you think you are when you arrive in Cuba, get ready to be blown away by the diversity of its culture and colonial history. It will pleasantly surprise you in many ways and stay with you forever.

You can read my Introduction to Cuba here to get more acquainted with the essence of this country through my eyes and experiences while there.Being such a visually intense place, I cannot help but share my top 10 images with you. Images that have stayed with me and have lived in my subconscious ever since and whenever I think of Cuba, (you can read more on this theory of mine in my other post here).

The essence of Cuba-my top 10 images
The typical battered-up red Cadillac used as a taxi.

You will see plenty of these American vintage cars all around Havana. Some of them in excellent condition, as if placed inside a time warp machine that kept them in an immaculate condition. Some others, like this red Cadillac, clearly show the signs of decades that have passed, yet proudly parked there and still waiting for the next passenger.
The people standing there, (are more than likely employees of Hotel Nacional behind), seem totally indifferent to what was once a status symbol. They are consumed by their everyday struggles, talking about them in the hope of seeing a better future.

The essence of Cuba-my top 10 images
The striking differences between the more modern, yellow cabs and their slower, super mopeds-the Coco Taxis

The Coco Taxis are a big part of Cuban transportation. They are seen everywhere and I could not exclude them from this photo essay. They are part of the transition that Cuba is undergoing; the more modern, yellow cabs that can be seen around-part of Cuba’s future and the likes of Coco taxis that whiz around the Malecón and remind us in a way

of Cuba’s authenticity. It was such fun to ride in them that it made them one of my highlights of this trip.

The guy leaning against the palm tree completed the picture for me, as he strongly reminded me of a character in the Al Pacino classic,  ‘The Scarface’.

The essence of Cuba-my top 10 images_
The 'all knowing smile' of street characters on the streets of Havana.

The streets of Havana are full of street artists of all kinds. Some of them perform the odd trick, while others do the usual juggling. This guy decided that despite his troubled foot, his persona, along with his ridiculously large cigars, were enough to earn his daily keep. He certainly secured his place in this Top 10 for just sitting there humbly and not making any effort to ask for Pesos from us directly. What a character!

The essence of Cuba-my top 10 images
How about these cuties for street entertainment?

Seeing these two sweetest dogs you immediately go “..ohhhh”! It just shows how desperate some people are to earn a few Pesos. They were obviously well trained to just sit there happily without any objections to their Cuban hats and glasses. One of them decided to pack it in for the day and just lay down and watch silly tourists take pictures.

They too are pondering about a better future yet to come..?!

The essence of Cuba -my top 10 images
The iconic 'Hotel Nacional' prominently standing by the shore of The Malecón

So much can be said about this historical building – Hotel Nacional.

A national monument of Cuba, part of its cultural heritage and identity. Its gardens are home to the guns of the old ‘Santa Clara Battery‘ and are considered a World Heritage site. It has been a big part of the country for the last 87 years and has been host to many famous personas from the film industry, arts, politics. Some of them being:
Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, Maria Félix, Jorge Negrete, and scientist Alexander Flemming.
We did get the chance to explore this establishment, being so close to our hotel too. Its Art-Deco style is strongly present with many elegant details that give it a ‘stately’ feel. Having a drink at the back, facing the gardens and relaxing in the comfortable, colonial-style setting was an experience in itself.

The essence of Cuba - my top 10 images
Che Guevara proudly gazing from the facade of the Ministry of Interior, next to the Cuban Flag

Such an iconic sight. The essence of Cuba – my top 10 images could not be complete without this picture! Situated at the ‘Plaza de la Revolución‘, it is one of the most visited sights in Cuba. So simple, yet so powerful! The actual image was captured in the 1960’s by photographer Alberto Koda.

Hasta La Victoria Siempre‘…’until victory always!

The essence of Cuba -my top 10 images
The colourful local markets in the streets of Havana

These local markets are so characteristic of Cuba and scattered throughout the streets of Havana. They can also be found in smaller villages further inland. They usually have bright colours and like this one, you buy your meat on one side and your veggies on the other – convenience is the key here.

The essence of Cuba -my top 10 images
The 'Rope hanging' guy

This is evident all over Cuba! People will try their hardest to do a job with whatever means they have. They are used to the struggles that their daily life has in store for them. Even if it means that your life may literally be ‘hanging by a thread’!

Cuba-introducing amazing experiences of a lifetime
School children catching a ride home in Cuba's outer districts.

I really have to include this picture here too, (you can also see it in my ‘‘Cuba-introducing amazing experience of a lifetime’ post). It portrays so beautifully the essence of Cuba and the character of its people. These kids are determined to get the education the state provides for them and use any means of getting there.

The essence of Cuba -my top 10 imageS
Sheer inequalities of Cuba.

I had to finish off with this image.

Although I didn’t go to Cuba with a particular aim in mind, the notion of ‘inequality’ kept popping up wherever we went. It becomes so evident in some places, (like in the resort town of Varadero) that it was kind of cynical. It overshadows almost everything else that Cuba is known for.

Inequality still exists within a system that was supposed to have been eradicated. Even here, not everything is equal. Even in a country that fought hard to keep it that way!


    • Andonis Radistis Reply

      Very happy you liked them – I wish I could post more since I have so many photos from that trip. Perhaps another post will be due..! 🙂

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