I had been in Cuba in 1999, long before I rediscovered my passion for photography. These were difficult times for the island, right after the “special period”, the time after the collapse of the Soviet Union that sent Cuba into famine and despair. I stayed most of the time in a resort near Havana and visited the city a couple of times, but did not really get to see Cuba. Therefore I endorsed promptly the idea to go again in Cuba and see the real Cuba as it is today.
There was no time for thorough planning. After some on-line research I decided to take my chances and rent a car to travel from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, with three night overs in Trinidad and Camaguey and then return with Air Cubana to Havana to spend some days there.
Cuba left me a bitter-sweet feeling of a country with great people and potential in the process of redefining itself after 55 years of socialism. Cuba is much more than great beaches, salsa and 60-year-old American cars. It is probably the last place on earth to study the pros and cons of the socialist experiment, a society struggling to regain economic growth, which has been hindered for five decades and at the same time, a third world country without hunger and extreme deprivation. Growing inequalities are evident but so is the potential coming from decades in education investments.
Cuba could have a great future if things change in the right way. It is ever more difficult to remain isolated in today’s world and the growing pressure for reforms will find its way in transforming this lovely country. The question is what to keep and how fast to go in order to preserve the tremendous cultural heritage and avoid a repetition of what happened in eastern Europe after the collapse of the Wall.
Here is complete list of the travelogues from this trip. Start reading here or click on any link to read the relevant post.