landscape, photography, seasons, travel, world

It’s green here

600_6718-s_wFirst stop: Artemisa.

This region is very green, but we had a slight problem with fresh water. You know, I mentioned it a several times, we were there during the dry season. So, the government was rationing the fresh water. From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. there was no water. Nevertheless, the area was still very green and the plants seemed in proper shape, although the dry period lasted nearly 5 months already.

In case, you plan hiking trips, this could be the region to do so. Hills, forests, many birds make the area interesting.

Stay tuned for the next posts on this area.

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culture, food, landscape, people, photography, travel, world

Heading back north

600_6786-ec_wWe started in Havana and went south after a few days. We saw many different cities and regions. We visited cities, historical places, beaches, mountainous regions and rural areas. In Santiago we reached the most southern point of our journey. When you look on your map, you’ll see, that there is another region left, where we weren’t until now: the north-west, west of Havana. So, we took a plane for a domestic flight from Santiago de Cuba back to Havana, to visit the remaining provinces Pinar del Rio and Artemisa. This time we arrived at another airport. Originally we arrived at José Marti International Airport, but this time we arrived at Ciudad Libertad. It’s smaller and less crowded.

Here in the north-west the areas are widely used for agriculture. Although we saw much agriculture in all parts of the country, I felt agriculture is a bit more present here in the north-west. Here you can find fields with sugar canes, rice, beans, manioc, pineapples, bananas, coffee, flowers and of course tabacco. We also found plantations growing flowers. Here they grew flowers, than I knew as indoor plants (i.e. the Amaryllis) or from exotic flower bouquets.

You know, we were in Cuba during the dry period. Here in the north-west we had some problems with water rationalisation. From 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. there was no drinking water available for taking a shower, cleaning your hands or using the toilet.

Take care!

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art, culture, history, landscape, people, photography, travel, world

La cathedrale

600_6669-s_wde Santiago de Cuba.

Finally we were lucky enough to see a cuban cathedral from inside. One evening, when we came back to our hotel, I saw light from inside shining through the wide open door to the square below. Going upstairs we had to pass the beggars again. They started again following us through the cathedral and didn’t left us alone watching the paintings, the decorated ceiling and the other interior. Our guide advised us, don’t give them anything.

Half of the cathedral was closed with a wooden wall, because of reconstruction works. The cathedral was hard damaged by the hurricane Sandy in December 2012 as several other parts of the old-town, too.

Take care.

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architecture, culture, landscape, people, photography, travel, world

walking around in Santiago de Cuba

600_6606-e_wOnce, Santiago de Cuba was the capital of Cuba. But, the capital moved north to the new built city Havana back in 1552.

As you can see, Santiago is quite old. But, you can find less old buildings then in i.e. Trinidad. OK, you won’t find much modern building in the old town, but the majority of the buildings were built during the 19th and the early 20th century.

As I mentioned in my post on the island Granma in the bay of Santiago, the southern part of Cuba was affected very hard by the hurricane Sandy. And, although Sandy happened more than 3 month ago, we were still able to see, how much the city was affected. Many buildings were destroyed. some of them were only tentative repaired to give the inhabitants a roof. Others were so much affected, that the people set up tents inside the houses. Or put signs at the door, saying that there is still someone living.

Although, many houses are damaged, you can still see, once Santiago was rich. Now, it is quite different. Santiago was the only city where we were hassled by beggars. They even followed us constantly begging for money. In other cities we also met poor people. But, those tried to offer a value for the money. They tried to sell something like cigars, water or soft-drinks. They made music or offered services like guidance or recommending restaurants. But here they were only begging. Fortunately they didn’t departed much from the place Parque Cespedes and thus left us alone after a few minutes.

During our visit we were also affected by the national mourning because of the death of Hugo Chaves, the president of Venezuela. For 1 week all dancing shows and even music plays were forbidden. So, we missed nearly all of our visiting plans here in Santiago.

I, personally, won’t visit Santiago for a second time. There are other places that are more interesting.

Take care!

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culture, history, landscape, people, photography, technic, travel, world

A sad decision

600_4069-sc2_wYesterday evening I got aware of a recent decision of the Cuban government, published by Raoul Castro, the Cuban president: Cuba allows the people to import new cars.

While this is good news for the Cuban people, I feel a bit sad about it. You ask me why? The answer is easy. I’m a photographer and it was fantastic to see all these wonderful old cars in the Cuban streets, when I was in Cuba. Not in a museum, they are still in use, even they are more than 60 years old.

I’d miss them.

More on Cuba? Have a look here in my blog and you can learn a bit about that court from a photographers view.

Take care!

culture, landscape, people, photography, travel, world

Heading further to the south

600_6383-e_wThe most south part of our tour is nearly reached: Santiago de Cuba!

But, before entering the city, we made a stop at the island Granma. We met the people while doing hard work to repair or even reconstruct their homes. They were hit hard by the hurricane Sandy. Many parts looked good already, but others were still wrecks. We also met a female teacher with her students working to repair the school building. The kids told us about learning in the morning and helping to repair in the afternoon. But, they weren’t lazy or angry, but nevertheless they were quite happy about the pause and the funny foreigners coming up to them.

The small island itself is located in the Bahia de Santiago. You can walk around the island in less than 30 minutes. The Bahia is very calm, because the entrance from the sea is very small. So, it is a bit like a lake. Nearly 100% of the bay is surrounded by land. The entrance to the bay is dominated by the Castillo del Morro, the old, spanish castle. The bay is used i.e. for the rower and sculler as their training ground. According to our guide, the Cuban olympic team is doing their exercises in this bay.

Take care.

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animals, art, culture, food, photography, travel, world

colorful pieces in the air

600_5895-sc_wand on the leafs around: butterflies!

Do you like the clowns in the air? Do you also wonder, how they are able to fly? It’s magic!

There are also butterflies, where I live. I love them since I was a child. Unfortunately, butterflies became less common over the years. Environmentalists say, that’s because of the many herbicides and  biocides. While the brides kill the caterpillars and the larvae, the herbicides kill their food plants. I hope, it’s not too late for saving these colorful insects.

In Cuba I met some butterflies, I’ve never seen before. I also was lucky enough to find a place, where several butterflies left their cocoon for starting a brand new live.  Maybe one of you is able to tell me the names of the butterflies in the photos.

Take care!

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landscape, meeting, photography, seasons, travel, world

Welcome to the jungle

600_5772-e_wThis time we stopped in the mountains in the south of Cuba. Here we have forests, lots of colorful birds, butterflies and, of course, rivers. Our hotel up in the mountains is located at a river with a waterfall, where the water falls down in a pond. The hotel consists of same small  houses. Approximately 40 – 50 guests can get a bed here. The photo above shows our hotels dining room and I’m standing in the middle of the (now nearly dry) river.

Do you remember, I already told you February and March belong to the dry period. The dry period begins in October / November and lasts until April / May. Having this in mind, you can easily see, why this river hasn’t that much water in early March. I’d really like to see, the waterfall during the raining period.

Even we’re in a tropic area, where they don’t have fall (autumn), some trees loosing their foliage during the dry period to spare water. But, nevertheless, it’s still green everywhere and we didn’t experience any water rationing here.

For today, I only picked out some photos showing the river, the waterfall and the pond. More on the nature around, the birds and the butterflies in one of my next posts.

Stay tuned!

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architecture, landscape, travel, world

Walking around in Camagüey

600_5643-e_wA short stop for the night left us some time to walk around. This was one of the two days with not so good weather. You can see a gray overcast sky and a few puddles in the streets.

I didn’t like the city, because it was quite hard to breath. The air was stinky and smelled like being spoiled by traffic pollution, although we didn’t see many cars. Maybe the bad weather was accountable for hindering the pollution to leave the streets and thus causing the bad air condition.

As usual, we found the church closed. Some people were waiting in front of the church for the door opening,  because the church was supposed to be open on that time, but no one came to open the doors. So, we went on.

Take care.

Don’t forget to have a look on the past posts von Cuba.

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architecture, culture, General, history, landscape, technical, travel, world

A little bit more on Trinidad

600_5252-s_wIn Trinidad you can still find houses built in the 17th and 18th century. You can easily distinguish between these houses: the houses built in the 17th century have wooden window gratings, while the window gratings at houses built in the 18th century are made of metal.

Another interesting thing is the good optical shape of the houses. The government grants the colorful painting to the house owners for i.e. good work (a reward system idea in communistic systems). But, here it works. As you can see, nearly all houses in the old town of Trinidad (and also in the other cities I visited) the houses are in good shape.

Enjoy.

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architecture, culture, history, landscape, photography, travel, world

Being in Trinidad

600_5201-s_wYes, I’m still in Cuba, even there is an island and an independent country with this name.

Trinidad is a quite old city, founded 1514 by the spanish colonists. It’s located at the west coasts in the middle part of Cuba. Trinidad lost its importance, when Cienfuegos grew, because Cienfuegos was founded at the ocean and got a harbour, while Trinidad is in the hills and approximately 10 km away from the ocean. Despite this distance, Trinidad was raided by pirates three times. (Do you remember the hollywood movies “Pirates of the Caribbean”?)

Trinidad was the 3rd city con Cuba and the spanish conquistadores started their conquest of Mexico here. Although the hope of finding gold in the hills didn’t become true, the city became very rich from growing sugar cane and the slave trade.

An interesting prove of the wealth of Trinidad is the pavement. All the stones used for covering the streets in the old town were imported from west africa and not taken from local stone pits!

Take care!

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architecture, art, culture, history, Music, photography, travel, world

Palacio de Valle in Cienfuego

600_5150-s_wPalacio de Valle is an impressive building in Cienfuegos. It was built by the italian architect Alfredo Colli 1913 to 1917 following design ideas created by the moors, the arab people in Andalusia, Spain.

The first owner was a merchant, who sold it to a great land owner, who finished the villa. Later, it became a gambling casino owned by dictator Batistas brother. Today, you can find a restaurant and a hotel in it. As a visitor you can go and have a look at is. Some parts are open to the public. On the second floor you can find a café on the roof-deck with a great view on the Cienfuegos bay (Bahia de Cienfuegos).

The three different towers symbolize each a certain character: the gothic tower stands for strength, the indian tower stands for love and the moorish tower stands for religion.

Take care!

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architecture, art, culture, history, Music, photography, travel, world

Teatro Terry in Cienfuegos

600_5104-ec_wHere we have the theatre of Cienfuegos. It’s called after Tomás Terry, a very rich sugar cane plantations owner originally from Venezuela. It’s built at the end of the 19th century following the neoclassical principles, just like many other parts of the old town of Cienfuegos.

In a painting at the ceiling right above the stage in front of the curtain, you can find “1889”. I don’t know, if this is the finishing year or the founding year. But, having in mind the founding year of the town, 1881, this is a very interesting connection.

There’s room for about 900 visitors in the theater and it is still used i.e. for piano concerts. Although there are chairs in the parquet and on the upper floor tiers, the loges don’t have seats. I guess, that’s because there is no need for upper class loges in a communist country.

As I mentioned earlier, here we also had to pay an additional fee (5 CUC) for the allowance to take photographs. The entrance fee for the theatre instead was covered by our tour guide.

Come, take a break, and enjoy the architecture of a past epoch of glamour and glory for the rich and upper class members, but hard hand work for the others.  You can find this kind of architecture in many places in Europe. But, would you have expected to find it in Cuba? I didn’t!

Take care!

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art, culture, history, landscape, meeting, photography, technical, travel, world

Make love, not war!

600_5015-s_wThis is one of the slogans of the flower power or hippie movement back in the 1960s and early 1970s, when people were tired from loosing relatives (son, fathers, husbands, uncles or brothers) in wars, that seem unnecessary to them.

One of these wars was on Cuba, when cuban refugees tried to banish Fidel Castro and his companeros, to get rid of his revolution. But, they failed. So, Cuba is still a communist country and many Cubans live in exile in Florida, only 30 km north of Cuba. In Cuba you can visit a little museum in the area around Bahía de Cochinos, where the attack in back in 1961 was started. You can also find hundreds of memorial pillars beside the streets, to mark places where important revolutionists died during this war.

Inside the museum you can find many documents, bills, banknotes, coins, old newspapers, photographs, ID cards and parts of the defenders equipment. Of course, everything is written in spanish. For taking photographs inside, you have to pay a 5 CUC fee, as I already told you in several other places in the past.

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animals, architecture, art, culture, flowers, landscape, photography, travel

Being a guest on Zapata peninsula

600_4983-s_wThe peninsula Zapata is a national park. But tourists are able to get special experience there. A hotel is in the middle of the national park. Every room is a separate wooden house on stalks. All houses are located around a bay. You’re able to watch many, many different birds nearby. The houses are well-integrated in the landscape. They even tried hard to hide the supply lines and the disposal line. No waste will fall in the water below the houses.

The hotel can be reached only via boat from Boca de Guamá. The motorboats need about 30 minutes for the transfer.  But, when you’re arrived, you’re in perfectly silence (beside the singing birds).

I’ll write another post soon dedicated to the wonderful birds on Cuba. So, don’t worry about having only two here in this post.

Stay tuned and while waiting for my next post in Cuba, you could have a look pack on my previous posts.

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