Cuba is the largest Caribbean island, full of colour and music everywhere you go. It is well known for
rum, cigars, Castro and Che. It is one of the last remaining truly communist countries, and has
government sanctions since 1959. There are no flights connecting with the US and
very little trade, leading to quirky side-effects such as the continued prevalence of American cars
predating the embargo. In recent years things have begun to look brighter for the people of Cuba, but it remains
one of only two countries where Coca-Cola is not officially sold, along with
We visited Cuba in October 1999, to find that our hotel had been damaged by a recent hurricane, so we
stayed at the adjacent hotel "El Viejo y el Mar" at Marina Hemmingway. I realised the following year
that old Havana's architecture is very much like Miami's South Beach, but with decades of neglect.
Unfortunately as a recalcitrant teenager at the time, I had neither the means nor the appreciation
to take decent photos, but this does give me another excuse to return someday soon.
This is the centre of La Havana, taken from the steps of their Capitol Building, which was built to
resemble the United States Capitol in Washington D.C.
Plaza de la Revolucion still sports the portrait of Che Guevara in the background, on the Ministry of
the Interior. Here the rallies take place and Fidel Castro would address the crowds. This particular
image of Che is world famous, appearing on t-shirts and the walls of student flats the world over.
The Mural del la Prehistoria was painted by students at the behest of Castro, on a rock face at Vinales
to the west of Havana. Although colourful it doesn't necessarily have much artistic merit. Vinales
is a tropical jungle area, and there were dozens of eagles soaring around. We also went on a boat
trip through a cave, and drank the juice straight out of coconuts split by local vendors.
Since the US trade embargo in 1959, Cuba found that its supply of cars rapidly dried up, and they had
to make do with what they already had. That coupled with the price of imported
vehicles, means that Cuba still sports a huge fleet of pre-1960s American cars, largely decrepit
and powered by Lada engines, but some gold dust can be found too.