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My senses stimulated by things that should be familiar to me, but strangely not. I'm not sure where I’m heading I have no agenda. I am here to discover, to learn and to share, and right now I feel overwhelmed if a little lost. I observe my surroundings with deep interest and with a smile making eye contact with those that pass me, eager to learn. I have that same excitement as I did when I was a child opening my presents on Christmas morning. The smell of diesel in the hot Caribbean air my first real taste of Havana; the cars polluting the air from an era before my time. A man steps out of a Bodega and heads towards me, angry because its out of rice, he tells me he has visited several now and all of them are out. He says “I can’t afford to buy it from the store”. I ask if I can help, but when I do, instantly he knows that I’m a stranger, (extranjero). He apologises for troubling me, and says “thanks, but no, I will just keep trying”.
This woman uses a hand signal to flag down a Máquina (local taxi). You may have several of them stop for you before you find one that’s going in your direction. Something at first I didn’t know. I just thought they were refusing to take me because I was a tourist.
His left thigh firmly pressed against the side holding him in position, a package in his hand that he examines briefly but thoroughly. The pile growing ever larger, only his arms and eyes move during his slightly over methodical approach to choosing the correct frozen meat. I fear looking into his eyes not sure I can bear them fixated on me in the same manner. All is not lost as there is an identical chest freezer adjacent to his. I slide open the door reach inside the half filled freezer and pull out a bag of what looks like crudely wrapped pieces of meat weighing around 3kilos, I look through some others and they all look and feel very similar. Its hard to make out the meat as the bags are frosty white and very thick. Now able to empathise with the man’s anguish I look around, not sure why maybe I was afraid I would become him.
So, before you go and purchase your new car. Have you ever thought of upcycling? Seems to be the in thing these days. Take this into consideration though. Materials, especially paints are expensive and very hard to come by, but some how Cubans manage to improvise without compromise. If anyone has any spare car parts and paint lying around why not have a go.
So I booked a state taxi from outside Hotel Inglaterra, Habana Vieja to arrive at my girlfriends for 3pm. At 2pm I received a phone call asking me if I was okay that a taxi particular could replace the state taxi which was booked, I was told that it had all the mod-cons, air conditioning etc. I agreed to accept the taxi particular. As long as it got me to the airport safely and on time that's all that mattered to me.
Cuban TV soap (Telenovela) the struggles trials and tribulations of farm life in Cuba, the storylines are realistic and topical. Although it's mainly set in a farming village it does also have some story lines set in Havana. It airs at 9pm three times a week Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CTV. It's probably more popular outside of Cuba.
In Havana, Raul dreams of escaping to Miami. Accused of assault, he appeals to Elio to help him reach the forbidden world 90 miles across the ocean. One night, full of hope, they face the biggest challenge of their lives.
Bar Silvia, Centro Habana. It is usually the regulars you will see in here. If you do find yourself here, buy the locals a drink and they are more than appreciative. This local is joining in the drinking fun after being bought some beer by a couple of travelling Australians.
Vianko Jose R. Blanko Ramirez Habana Vieja. Posing with one of his paintings. He sells his work from his small workshop and also exclusively from a large tourist store in Plaza de Catedral.
Pace in Havana can sometimes be quite slow, therefore passing time can be a difficult thing to do.
The journey of Havana Life began over 4 years ago during a short stay in Havana. I had no preconceptions or expectations, but it was a trip that changed my life forever. I set out to learn about a city that had almost been forgotten; both to educate myself as well as others. I used my photography to bring people to life as I explored a city that welcomed me in, making me part of its family. I fell in love not only with the city but a Cuban girl during my project, a story for the future. The book is the first of 3 projects. To compliment the book there is Havana Life a cinematic documentary and Havana Life exhibition.
A sneak peek inside the finished Havana Life book!Posted by Havana Life Project on Friday, 22 May 2015
"I really like the presentation, the 2 page spreads are incredible, they are all amazing but I really like the three cars one. It makes you want to see what’s around the corner, it makes you want to go there to see those colours on the walls and the weathered characters. It’s an amazing achievement and the passion you have really comes through. You can’t help but smile as you turn the pages."
Enrique taking time out to give his approval to Havana Life.
Havana Life is a photography book, travel guide, journal and insight into one of the most unique places in the world. It started as an educational journey but one that has turned into something so much more, a passion shared by the people of Havana, and one I would like to share with you.
When you enter a building in Havana it is as though you are entering a whole new world. Difficult to imagine and even harder to describe. You rarely see what you expect to.
The wedding crashers or the opportunists? These girls have a lunchtime beer just meters away from Palacio de los Matrimonios where a wedding ceremony has just ended. The party are now getting ready for their reception. The girls on the other...
Documentary about Fidel Castro, covering 40 years of Cuban Revolution. Rare Fidel Castro footage: he appears swimming with a bodyguard, visiting his childhood home and school, playing with his friend Nelson Mandela, meeting kid Elián Gonzalez, and celebrating his birthday with the Buena Vista Social Club group.
Argentinian doctor; joined Castro in Mexico in 1954; a leader of the 1956-59 Cuban Revolution. Che served as president of Cuba's national bank and as Cuba's minister of industry in the period immediately following the Cuban Revolution.
Simon Reeve BBC Documentary about life in Cuba.