Cuba: Day 13

19 February 2007

Urban sketching in Cuba.

Havana Cathedral

Havana. Suburban housing and the school bus.

Hotel Sevilla, Havana

Houses on the Paseo del Prado

4pm: Parque Central, and the last drawing.

It’s time to go home.

Cuba: Day 12

18 February 2007

Urban sketching in Cuba.

Room 511, Ambos Mundos Hotel

The room where Hemingway wrote “For Whom The Bell Tolls”.

Havana Rooftops

Ambos Mundos Hotel.

Paseo del Prado, Havana

Havana backstreets

View of the Paseo del Prado, looking south from the Malécon to the dome of the Capitol building.

Cuba: Day 11

17 February 2007

Urban sketching in Cuba.


Grand colonial buildings, once brightly painted, line the streets of Havana. Almost every building in the city is over a hundred years old, and most of them have not been painted or repaired in the last fifty years. This picture doesn’t show the frightening state of decay.

Storm over Havana, from Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro.

Decaying Spanish colonial-style housing, from the grounds of the Capitol building.

Havana: La Floridita

“Mi daiquiri en el Floridita”: Ernest Hemingway’s favourite drinking spot.

Cuba: Day 10

16 February 2007

Urban sketching in Cuba.

Las Terrazas

Thickly forested hills outside Havana.
On the far right, a gumbo-limbo tree, also known as the “tourist tree”, because its bark is red and peeling.


Limestone hills (mogotes) created by erosion 160 million years ago, in landscape of green pastures and freshly ploughed red fields.

Cuba: Day 9

15 February 2007

Urban sketching in Cuba.

Santa Clara
Che Guevara’s mausoleum.

The Plaza de la Revolucion in front of Che Guevara’s mausoleum.

The motorway outside Havana, with an accurate representation of the traffic levels.
Our coach was often the only motor-vehicle for miles around. The other traffic on the motorway comprises a horse and cart, a herd of goats, the odd chicken, and an occasional optimistic hitchhiker.

Cuba: Day 8

14 February 2007

Urban sketching in Cuba.

A tree in the Botanic Gardens near Cienfuegos. The tree generates seedlings around it, which grow up and merge with the parent.

King palms, traveller’s palm and jurassic palms.


Cienfuegos is another UNESCO World Heritage city. Here are two of the buildings around the main square: the Teatro Tomás Terry and the Colegio San Lorenzo.

A roundabout

View of Cienfuegos from the top floor of the Hotel Jagua. You can’t miss the Royal Poinciana trees, also known as “Flamboyant trees” and “Flame of the Forest”. Look also for the chimneys of the oil refinery, and the baseball stadium.

Houses on the Punta Gorda

Palacio de Valle

A Moorish style palace built 1917, now a restaurant.

Cuba: Day 7

13 February 2007

Urban sketching in Cuba.


A spectacular UNESCO World Heritage site: an entire town unchanged for nearly two hundred years. This is view of a corner of the main square, the Plaza Mayor. In the centre of the picture is the tower of the Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco; in the fold of the sketchbook, the Palacio Brunet; and on the right, the Iglesia Parroquial de la Santísima Trinidad (Church of the Holy Trinity).

The tower of the Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco. The monastery is now a museum commemorating the fight against the “bandits”, opponents of the Cuban revolution in 1959.

Trinidad: Playa Ancon

Come to Cuba and turn red!

Walking barefoot beneath palm trees that bend to kiss the white caster sugar sands caressed by the warm waters of a liquid sapphire sea...

Two minute’s walk from  the hotel complex, and you are in untouched swampland.
On the beach, a breeze keeps the heat down, but just a few yards inland the air is still and the temperature soars. The stench of stagnant water is so strong that you can almost taste it, and there are tracks of unknown swamp-dwellers in the mud.

Cuba: Day 6

12 February 2007

Urban sketching in Cuba.


Early morning traffic on the main street in Camagüey, from the balcony of the Hotel Colón. No cars; just pedestrians, bicycles, and “bicitaxis”.

Sancti Spíritus

The church, Parroquial Mayor del Espíritu Santo, and a statue to Don Rudesindo García Rijo, a 19th century doctor who treated the poor for free. He was murdered by the other doctors in the town for taking away their business. The stall is selling papier maché cars and airplanes.

Cuba: Day 5

11 February 2007

Urban sketching in Cuba.


Birthplace of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, leader of the first Cuban revolution. One morning in 1868, he rang the slave bell on his farm as usual, to tell the slaves that it was time for work. As they stood before him waiting for orders, Céspedes announced they were all free men, and called upon them to join him and his fellow rebels in the war against colonial Spain.

The Cuban national anthem begins:
“Hasten to battle, men of Bayamo, For the Fatherland looks proudly upon you.”

Bayamo: General García, the main shopping street

Somewhere on the road between Bayamo and Camagüey

Few cars, and almost no public transport. Hitchhikers like the road. The US embargo on trade with Cuba means that there is a desperate shortage of petrol. Cuba’s solution is government-organised hitchhiking. There are places along the road where you go to wait, and government employees (the “yellow people”) stop any passing traffic to find out where it’s going, and if it’s going where you want to get to, everyone piles in.