Iain Clark CUBA Private View Invitation THUR 30 JULY MkII


Cuba – a mythical place, a Shangri-La in a troubled world. A Caribbean island caught in a time warp for the last fifty years.

There is an innocence and naivety about Cuba that is reflected in the population who appear guarded and shy. However once you smile or give them a friendly wave they open up and will happily engage in conversation.

Havana is a gloriously decrepit city the buildings appear to crumble before your eyes. There is little graffiti on the pastel painted walls. The strangest thing of all is the lack of shops. Cigars and cigarettes can be bought in the hotels and bars but it is almost impossible to buy a lighter or matches anywhere.

The classic American cars still running are a testament to the skills of the ‘make do and mend’ mechanics. Most of them have been fitted with diesel engines and bits salvaged from other vehicles. The doors barely close, the windows won’t shut, the indicators don’t work and the cab will be full of diesel fumes enticing you into a coma before your journey’s end.

There is dust and grime everywhere along with traffic fumes, salsa music, Cuban flags and images of Fidel and Che.

The Malecon running along the seafront is a popular place for nighttime promenades by Habaneros young lovers, during the day it is lined with fishermen. When the wind blows huge waves crash over it often closing the main road.

Voodoo still holds sway amongst much of the population and many dress entirely in white, sacrificial birds are left in plastic bags under trees all over the city. A recent study into genetic ancestry in Cuba proved the population to be 72% European, 20% African and 8% Native American. Nearly all Cuban music is influenced by the African rhythms brought by the slaves.

Outside Havana the roads are almost empty apart from tourist buses, trucks, horse and carts, vintage American and old Russian cars. There are disused railway lines but no working trains.

To travel the Cuban’s stand at the roadside holding paper money to their foreheads to show they can pay for a lift. Everywhere there are groups of people standing around. It appears as if the population has developed a tolerance to waiting as if it has become a part of the national psyche. No doubt Following the recent historic rapprochement between the USA and Cuba there will be more waiting for the people of Cuba as the current way of life fades into history.

Iain Clark © 2014 | website by Noah Saterstrom