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April 7, 2014

Stepping Back in Time: The Streets of Havana. {Photos}

Women in Old Havana

I’ve been back from Cuba for a month now, yet somehow, I can’t seem to forget this fascinating place. Cuba is a place of perseverance, frustration and pride.

A place that has been frozen in time and forbidden to most Americans for over half a century, yet continues to have an allure that is undeniable.

Cuba’s turbulent past and centuries of struggle for independence and freedom has certainly left its mark. It is a complicated country that is difficult to understand unless you see it for yourself. A month later, I still have confused feelings about Castro, the Cuban Revolution and America’s tenuous, enduring involvement in Cuba’s internal affairs.  But one thing I don’t have mixed feelings about is Cuba itself: Her vibrant culture, her warm-hearted, welcoming people and her beautiful albeit often decaying buildings. All in all, Cuba is extraordinary and I’m finding her hard to forget.

Plaza de la Catedral Old Havana

Plaza de la Catedral in Old Havana.

The best way to understand Cuba, perhaps, is by simply taking a walk down a street in Havana. The sounds of salsa and the rhythm of son, the peeling paint on once grand mansions, the taste of mojitos and rum, the enduring, persevering faces among the Cubans themselves. All of this is a testament of Cuba’s tumultuous past and Cubans will to survive.

It was the people of Cuba that captivated me the most. Their generosity, ability to laugh at their hardships and their friendly, kind way made me feel right at home and wishing I spoke better Spanish.

Old Havana

Woman in Havana

The sensational old mansions and buildings of a once decadent Havana which are most in various states of decay.  Although restoration has been in progress, it is at a snail’s pace due to lack of funds.

A row of once gorgeous homes in Old Havana

A row of once gorgeous homes in Old Havana

Renovation in Old Havana

Taking a break from work renovating a historic mansion in OId Havana. 

Homes in Old Havana

Worker in Havana

Revolutionary propaganda can be seen everywhere in Cuba even after fifty years. There are billboards, posters and of course all tons of books on Castro and the Revolution.

Shop in Havana

Plaza des Armes Havana

Plaza des Armas

What I found is that simple scenes from the street explain it all: The progress and lack of progress in Cuba. The broken down pre-Revolution American cars, the sudden appearance of entrepreneurs selling art on the street, the musicians trying to make a dime, the mojitos and finally the Cuban pride.

Vintage American cars in Cuba

Selling art in Old Havana

Street Musicians in Havana

Mojitos in Havana

Vintage American cars in Cuba

I hope to someday return to Cuba freely, without the US-government imposed travel restrictions. What a shame that after fifty years Cuba still remains off-limits. I’m certain Cubans would welcome us with open arms and perhaps the much needed tourist dollars would help them live an easier life.

 

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Apprentice Editor: Brenna Fischer/Editor: Travis May & Jenna Penielle Lyons

Photo: Mizrak/Flickr Creative Commons

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