Cuba, 2004

The way I saw it, Cuba had to be visited before Castro dies. And then, two days before I fly, I see headlines in the Evening Standard: Castro has fallen and has been hospitalised. Did I get the timing wrong?

No it turns out. He’s still alive and well, locals still talk about him with a hushed reverence normally reserved for religious leaders. The other bonus of arriving in late October is that the flood of winter tourists has yet to start and it’s still in the high twenties.

Overall it’s very varied. We covered quite a distance, everything from the grandeur and squalor of Havana, to the colonial delights of Trinidad to sleeping outside a hacienda half way up a mountain in the South East and the limestone pillars in the West. Exhausting but worth it.

Havana is one of those cities with shady squares and twisty back-street that you can happily aimlessly wander around for hours. Those 50s American cars you see in the pictures really are there, although once inside you realise that the romantic imagery doesn’t quite match up to the practicalities (they’re noisy and uncomfortable).

The smaller towns were more aesthetically consistent and the locals more friendly. It was difficult going for a drink without finding yourself being dragged onto the dance floor. They just don’t believe you when you say you can’t Salsa…

In the mountains we saw Fidel and Che Guevara’s hide-away and a spike shoved up a pigs bum for our spit-roasted dinner. In Viñales we saw limestone columns, red-clay soil and tobacco growing in the fields.

Click the small pictures below for a full size version. All the full size pictures are optimised for a 1024×768 display and are in 24-bit colour. All images are copyright and my permission is required for any use.

All pictures here have been taken on my EOS300D with the 18-55mm lens. Many of the outdoor pictures were taken using a polarising filter. If anyone currently in Cuba finds my skylight filter can then please return it!

If the pictures have piqued your interest, there are a few resources that you might want to have a look out for:

  • Switching allegiances this time, I bought the Rough Guide to Cuba. While having less pictures, the text was significantly more detailed.
  • I only found the Cuba Portal on my return but it has lots of information on places that I visted.