I thought my first visit to Cuba would be like visiting a country down on it’s luck. I expected to see abject poverty and crumbling infrastructure, a country struggling to feed and house its people.
My ideas couldn’t be further from what I expected. I was transported back in time, but in a way I didn’t expect. The architecture, history, and communities were remarkable and unforgettable, and I left with a new perspective of a country more developed than most I’ve visited in Latin America.
Check out some snapshots I took during my time in Cuba. They capture the warm and welcoming people, the lush and green scenery, and the eclectic mix of new and old ways of life.
Havana’s architecture is an eclectic mix of old and new. Due to Havana’s almost 500-year existence, the city boasts some of the most diverse styles of architecture in the world, from castles built in the late 16th century to present-day high-rises. The streets are lined with rich color and beauty throughout the city.
After the 1959 revolution, education improved for rural communities and allowed students of all socioeconomic backgrounds to participate in organized sports. Since then, rural students have participated in show jumping, a sport typically reserved for the elite.
Cuba has experienced food shortages because of embargos placed by trading partners. The worst occurred in the 1990s, which Cubans call the “Special Period.” Everyone lost an average of 12 pounds. While there are still food shortages, they are less severe and less frequent.
Warm waters, white sand beaches, and plenty of sun make any coast in Cuba the perfect destination for rest and relaxation. Cayo Levisa, pictured here, is only accessible by boat and one of the most popular beaches for snorkeling in Cuba.
Car imports were banned in 1959 when Fidel Castro took power, so Cubans became very skilled at keeping up the pre-1959 cars they owned. It is not uncommon to feel like you’ve been swept back to the 1950s while driving around the island.
The Museum of the Revolution in Havana is a popular destination for tourists for several reasons. Not only does the museum showcase life before the 1950s revolution, the building is an exhibit in itself–it served as the presidential palace from 1920 to 1959 and was decorated by Tiffany & Co.
Whether you’re a local or a tourist, catching the sunset at the Malecón is a sight that can’t be missed. It’s a broad esplanade, roadway, and seawall that stretches for five miles along the coast of Havana. It’s not uncommon for locals to fish, hang out with friends, and dance until the early hours of the night.
I captured two young boys sharing a cup of ice cream in Havana, where summer temperatures reach 100 degrees fahrenheit. Ice cream in Cuba is cheaper than most necessities–an order of the famous ensalada, which is five scoops of ice cream served in a plastic bowl, is 20 cents.
Cubans are known for being incredibly resourceful people. When it was time for this family to move from their top floor apartment building, they recruited a bit of muscle from their friends and removed appliances and furniture from their apartment using a simple pulley and rope.
Music, culture, and color are all vivid in the city of Havana, where it’s not uncommon to walk into a restaurant or turn a corner and hear the wonderful rich sounds of a live band playing nearby.
Sound like your kind of destination? Travel to Cuba with us next summer! Spaces are limited, so sign up now!