American car photography
In the late afternoon I arrive in Holguin Cuba’s fourth largest city (195 000) after a long bus ride from Trinidad. There is actually no good reason for a tourist to stay in Holguin this is an industrial city. The old colonial city of Camagüey Cuba’s third largest city (270 0000) west of Holguin is far more interesting and rewarding for tourists. A taxi drove to Casa Particulares Casa de Rosa near the central areas of the town. This casa was spotlessly clean and had hot-water bathroom. In the evening I went out to see what Holguin could offer for entertainment in the middle of the week. I met Ramon Quintana on Plaza Calista Garcia.
He said I was a promoter for a Cuban disco band. Why not listen to their music I know a Café there the owner will play this music it´s on the other side of the square. We walked over to the café, the owner took Ramon’s CD and put it into a CD player. The music was horrible and definitely nothing I liked. I gave Ramon a beer and ordered a coca cola myself. Ramon worked hard to promote the disco band! You can copy my CD:s and earn a fortune in Sweden! What do you think? Well you know, few swedish people understand spanish. What about 5 CUC, said Ramon? I shook my head, Ramon said 3 CUC? The answer was no once again! I left Ramon and went back to Casa Rosa for the night.
Next morning I took my tripod and Camera backpack and strolled into the city. Shops were about to open outside most of them were long queues of people desperately trying to come inside and buy something. Buses overloaded with people was coming into the city centre. It was clear that the orient (eastern Cuba) was a far poorer area than the western Cuba. I was looking for old american cars and a suitable place to take photos of them. I needed a background with a grafitty type walls or very run down wall there the paint was coming off the walls. I found a suitable place outside a small bakery. There was a sign in the street “Hay Pan” have bread at least someone who had something to sell. I went a cross the street for a place in a small garden there were some stairs so I was about a meter above the street. I attached a fifty mm lens to the camera and waited for the first american car. I was looking for long exposure times about half a second or a bit faster. However I had made a mistake my neutral density filters were in the luggage at the Casa Particulares Casa Rosa. Didn´t want to take the about one hour walk back to Casa Rosa I thought I would do something decent anyway.
The american cars arrived one after another but I was not particularly successful. In the afternoon the sun had come down a bit and I had some decent pictures. Clock was running towards six a clock in the evening and it was time for the bakery to close the shop for the day. At least I should have a picture of the “Hay Pan sign” before going back to Casa Rosa. I stepped out into the street and took a picture of the sign. A man in his sixties turned up from nowhere and asked. in fluent english why did you take what picture? Few Cubans speak english, if they do, they are definitely not fluent. This man was different no question about that! What was he doing, why did he ask this question? Was he working for the police or someone else? I said I will of course answer your question. You are doing the right thing asking this question. The man retorted, this pictures is going to show the ugliness of Cuba isn´t it? I said absolutely not! This picture is showing that Cuba have problems to-day the bakery has bread in the shop but tomorrow the sign stays inside since there isn´t any bread to sell. The man said, We are trying to approve every day we are not a development country. I said, I know , there are many countries far poorer than Cuba I have seen many of them. As a matter of fact Cuba is number fifty-three of the about two hundred countries of the world. The man said are you american? I answered no I am Swedish, now I am going to show you why I took these pictures. Look att the walls there are many color pink, yellow, brown, gray and black. Now look at my picture in the digital camera although the wall is run down it´s impossible to see what in the pictures since I am panning with the camera trying to follow the car. The man said thank you, and disappeared as fast as he had turned up.
I strolled back to Casa Rosa for a short break before evenings activities. Holguin had a lot of performances on in the city centre. At one square clowns entertained the children at another square an orchestra was playing modern music. The singer a girl in her twenties asked the audience if there was anything they would like the orchestra to play? One man in the audience said, why not play something from ABBA. The orchestra played Dancing Queen an old ABBA hit . The Cubans knows from there the tourists comes.
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