Cuba is changing rapidly, particularly the capital, Havana. The influx of the increasing amount of tourists visiting the country is no more evident than in the country’s capital. It’s still nowhere near a city like for instance Prague, which I visited a couple of weeks ago. Nevertheless, Havana is quite a different city than it was only a few years ago, almost shifting from day to day, with new restaurants, new hotels, new, private accommodations and new activities popping up everywhere.
The same happens in other areas, which are popular with tourists, such as the beautiful valley of Viñales. In a few years particularly the amount of private restaurants, the so-called paladares, and private housing, called casas particulares, have exploded. Today more than 1500 private rooms are available for tourists travelling to the small town of the same name as the valley.
The most evident change, which is seen everywhere, is that tourists from the US are finding their way to Cuba in vaster amounts than ever. After the legal restrictions have been lifted (but still aren’t quite normalized yet), thousands of US visitors have found a new Caribbean destination offering something quite unique.
Despite the influx of tourism I describe here, it doesn’t take much exploring off the beaten tracks before you will find a Cuba still almost untouched by tourism. I am not saying tourism is bad, because it’s definitely had a positive influence on Cuba, but it’s still lovely to find the original culture living vibrantly along the changes. Such as my «my family» of farmers, living in Viñales, only a couple of miles from the town, without any influence from foreign visitors. They live their life as they have done in generations, poor, but content and with strong family ties. I have written about «my family» before in posts such as My Second Family and Where Time Stands Still.
The image above is of one of the family members rolling his own cigar. It was taken last week, when I revisited Cuba and Viñales. It was partly a private trip and partly a preparation for the next photo workshop I will teach in Cuba. I will soon get back with an announcement about the workshop.
Facts about the photo: The photo was taken with a Panasonic Lumix LX-100 with the zoom set 10.9 mm, equally to 24 mm for a full frame camera. Shutter speed: 1/125 of a second. Aperture: f/4.0. The photo was processed in Lightroom and Photoshop.