Raphael Kessler

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Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean is an interesting country to visit for various reasons. The Cuban music is internationally reputed and ca be heard in bars and restaurants all over, played live as recorded music is generally unappreciated. It is somewhere that despite being poor and subjected to "an illegal and inhumane embargo" by the United States has several feathers in its cap. It's healthcare is world class and free to Cubans, with the second best doctor patient ratio in the world. It has an infant mortality rate lower than most western countries, including the United States. According to analysts it has the best education in Latin America. Generally considering the problems the country is a success, there are human rights issues, however all agree that this is improving. The biggest human rights problem is the expatriate Cuban lobby in the United States which still continue to boycott and embargo illegally (according to the United Nations, European Community and other international agencies).

When I got to Cuba it was just a few days after hurricane Michelle had struck, reeking devastation across the country. It was impressive to see the speed at which the country cleared roads and dealt with associated problems. It is a country that has a rich history and at times the modern and old are intermingled with new and old cars being held up by bullock carts (photos 1-3) and where much of the agricultural work is still done with human (photo 4) and animal labour. Steam trains are still used (photo 5), but so are modern jets, it is a country in the present and the past at the same time.

  • (c) Copyright - Raphael Kessler 2011 - Cuba - Bay of Pigs clearing
  • (c) Copyright - Raphael Kessler 2011 - Cuba - Cardenas
  • (c) Copyright - Raphael Kessler 2011 - Cuba - Trinidad man on a donkey
  • (c) Copyright - Raphael Kessler 2011 - Cuba - Tilling the soil
  • (c) Copyright - Raphael Kessler 2011 - Cuba - Me driving a locomotive.

The Cubans are proud of their history, as a vital settlement in the Caribbean with splendid forts (photo 1) and palaces (photo 2) They also take note of their more recent history of revolutions. Che Guevara's face is all over the place on billboards and buildings (photo 3), here though he is not just a trendy icon like those worn by students around the world, he really symbolises something. 

  • (c) Copyright - Raphael Kessler 2011 - Cuba - Havana fort guns
  • (c) Copyright - Raphael Kessler 2011 - Cuba - Havana palace
  • (c) Copyright - Raphael Kessler 2011 - Cuba - Havana Ministry of Communications

I did several dives in Cuba, all were okay but the standard of the dive centres was generally atrocious. The DiveMasters I was with generally lacked any semblance of professionalism, destroying the marine environment and ignoring their clients.

(c) Copyright - Raphael Kessler 2011 - Cuba - Me diving

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