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Friday, February 19th, 2010

The streets of Havana

The streets of HavanaFrom the moment I laid eyes on them, the streets of Havana captivated me. I can’t recall if it was the exuberant friendliness of the people, the fragile beauty of worn façades or the bright colours of American road cruisers from the fifties, but I was immediately fascinated by this singular Caribbean mix. Through my lens I found Havana to be photogenic, intense and multifaceted.

Exploring this city on foot – as a photographer should – is both stimulating and tiring. Aching feet and legs will have to be endured, though, for there is no better way to come to grips with both the overall essence and the unseen nooks and crannies of this unusual place.

Unlike other celebrated cities of the world, Havana doesn’t boast grand historical buildings or areas of obvious tourist interest, yet to the attentive visitor it reveals itself in a far more profound and unusual way. Tattered buildings of potential beauty line streets populated with classic cars held tenuously together by the ingenuity of a people whose isolation has seemingly frozen time on this island.

Musician on Havana's famous oceanfront promenade.Once the darling of the revolutionary world, Cuba has long since been an historic anachronism whose failure to catch on has led to a form of self-enforced isolation. It is a state that will pass, but for the time being the visitor may be so selfish as to secretly be grateful, for Havana offers sights and impressions that are increasingly scarce in this modernising world.

The lens is especially rewarded in Habana Vieja, the old town, where faded colonial grandeur lives on in a spellbinding Caribbean atmosphere. Here, and along the famous oceanfront promenade the singularity of this city and its people is almost palpable. Indulge in a Cohiba, most coveted of Cuban cigars, or the glorious local rum, and the music will find you. Bolero, rumba and salsa are the omnipresent rhythms in the streets and bars of a city like no other…

Thomas Dressler

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