Cuba Educational Photo Tour “A Land Lost in Time”

Posted May. 1st, 2014 by Daniel J. Cox

I recently returned from our Cuba Educational Photo Tour, a place I’m calling, “a land lost in time.” Cuba is definitely one of the most inspirational and educational efforts we have ever undertaken. Our mission to learn more about Cuba was allowed via a person to person educational permit. I had heard lots of good things about our southern neighbors but I was unprepared for the immense photo opportunities, how friendly the people are, their desire to learn from us and us from them, as well as educate our Explorers to the ins and outs of living in a world seemingly removed from time.  It was almost too much to comprehend in the seven short days we were there. On one hand there was the Cuba that time forgot. On the other are the many changes currently taking place under Cuba’s new leadership.

Gallery’s of Photos from our trip to Cuba below.
Dan’s Cuba Portfolio
NE Explorer’s Cuba Portfolio
NE Explorers Enjoying and Learning About the Cuban Culture.

Old cars

Old cars wait for the traffic light on the streets of Havana, Cuba

The old cars were hard to believe. They were mostly Chevys dating back to the 1950’s. We heard more than once how the Cuban car repairmen are considered magicians, not mechanics. When you see how incredibly well kept these vintage autos are you understand the sorcerer, mystical connection. The paint jobs alone make for wonderful photo opportunities.

A man passing by an old car is reflected in the window on the streets of Trinidad, Cuba.

A man passing by an old car is reflected in the window on the streets of Trinidad, Cuba.

We saw 55 Bel Airs in baby blue, bright red, pink, green, yellow and about any other color you can imagine. Some were in perfect condition, some were less so, many had diesel engines since diesel fuel is less costly. The cabbies use them for work and they’re proud of what they have. One of the biggest highlights of the trip was the evening our itinerary included a drive to dinner in several 55 Bel Airs. It was an immensely educational opportunity to speak with our local drivers and get a better a picture (no pun intended) of typical Cuban life. Julio (pictured below) and his wife are working hard to make the best of the US Embargo in this tiny little nation.

Julio at the wheel of his baby blue, 1955 Chevy Bel Air on our way to dinner in the heart of Havana, Cuba

Julio at the wheel of his baby blue, 1955 Chevy Bel Air on our way to dinner in the heart of Havana, Cuba

Speaking with the locals was enlightening, understanding just exactly what it takes to be so close to the US and yet so far. I find it incredulous we’re currently sharing the International Space Station with Russia – we spend $79,452,055 per day with China (based on last year’s trade figures divided by 365), we spend $25,000,000 a year with Vietnam and we’re still punishing Cuba for their former leader.

A photo of Fidel Castro I shot in a local restaurant. Cojimar, Cuba

A photo of Fidel Castro I shot in a local restaurant. Cojimar, Cuba

Fidel Castro is for all practical purposes, gone. In his place is his brother Raul and this Castro is making some radical changes. Is he perfect? No, but he’s abolished the death penalty, something used quite regularly in the past. Cubans can now travel basically at will, they can buy their own personal homes and Raul has signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Cuba isn’t perfect but it certainly is getting much better. Now if they can just get their economy into this century they may actually be able to live a more comfortable life. 

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 2.53.04 PM

Raul Castro is more moderate, interested in moving forward, is less bombastic, seems to have more of a heart than his brother and is making major changes. (AP Photo/Ismael Francisco, Cubadebate)

Quite frankly, the holdup seems to be the Cuban Americans who have been living the American Dream in Florida. They left in 1959 and you can only imagine how much better their lives are compared to their Cuban family members back home.  There’s a great article you can read on the Council on Foreign Relations website that gives a well documented summary of the US & Cuba relationship and a timeline on all the political upheaval. It’s quite interesting, especially once you have experienced Cuba and its people for yourself.  Yes, the Cuban Americans have a right to be pi#*ed off but the years they have lived here in America have given them much, much more than the poor folks who were left behind.

I don’t think it will be long before we see even bigger changes taking place in Cuba. That was the reason we wanted to get there now. I was desperate to get a better understanding of what these poor people have gone through.  As I tell all young people, go see it for yourself if you truly want to understand any issue. Talk to the people, see the landscape, interact with society. Then make your decisions on what is right and what is wrong. Quite frankly, with the changes that are now taking place on this beautiful southern island, I’m confident our national policy towards Cuba needs an extreme overhaul. Let’s stop picking on these poor people and let them join the world if they choose.

Join us next year in “A land lost in time”. Contact Tanya for our next Educational Photo Tour to Cuba.

Gallery’s of Photos from our trip to Cuba below.
Dan’s Cuba Portfolio
NE Explorer’s Cuba Portfolio
NE Explorers Enjoying and Learning About the Cuban Culture.

Add Your Voice!
There are 10 comments on this post…
  1. Jeffrey CongerOn May. 15th, 2014

    Really enjoyed this article! Especially impressed by the portfolio of Cuba. Such dynamic images from a wide range of subjects with amazing colors and compositions. Great job! And you know how I like the classic rides that is stuck in time there. Thanks for posting! – JC

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 15th, 2014

      Thanks Jeffery, you would love Cuba. So much fun to go back in time. Such friendly people and great images everywhere. Enjoyed teaching with you last night.

  2. Teresa KolarOn May. 3rd, 2014

    Awesome article, Dan. Love the photos. Beautiful and educational. Top notch as always.

  3. Sue WolfeOn May. 1st, 2014

    Boss:
    Beautiful images. Made me want to go back.
    Grasshopper

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 1st, 2014

      Thank you Grasshopper. I appreciate your kind words. Would love to have you come with us next year. I can’t wait to go back.

    • Sue WolfeOn May. 2nd, 2014

      Boss:
      Would love to go back … didn’t get to Trinidad the first time and it looks really cool. If you get a chance you might check into Vinales Valley. The terrain reminded me a little of Halong Bay in Vietnam with its limestone hills. It is also known for tobacco growing. If you go at the right time of the year you can see the drying tobacco hanging on racks in the fields.
      Grasshopper

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 2nd, 2014

      Thanks Grasshopper. I had heard about Vinales Valley. Would love to see the drying tobacco. I’ll pas this on to the other BOSS. Hope you are well. Thanks for joint the discussion Grasshopper.

  4. Ian EnrightOn May. 1st, 2014

    What a great article Dan. My best friend and his wife lived there for over 3 years (Canadian engineer on an assignment from a Canadian company). He worked at a power plant that ran off of natural gas. It was very frustrating to try to keep such critical infrastructure working; especially since the generator was made by GE. If they needed help and called GE they were asked the unit serial number. When that number showed it was running in Cuba all the GE person could say was “sorry.. can’t help you” and hang up.

    They too spoke of the beautiful nature of the people and the ingenuity that has emerged just to survive. As always Dan, your article is refreshingly balanced in your opinion.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 1st, 2014

      Thanks for adding your voice Ian. Hope all is well in Calgary.

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