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  • Amara Amaryah

travel | postcards from la habana, cuba part 1

Amara Amaryah | travel + books + poetry, always poetry. a platform for story-telling, visuals, positive self-talk and empowerment. | postcards from la habana, cuba

hello loves

happy july. i'm finally missing travelling. it took me a while but i eventually got here because i downloaded my photos and fell back in love with wandering and documenting new people and places. i'm now here heavy in my nostalgia. here is my photodiary from my last trip to a country that had been on my travel list for years - cuba.

there is so much to say about cuba and the loud and glorious nature of la habana. we'll get there. for now i will let you indulge in the visuals.

postcards from la habana.

monday 10 - tuesday 11 feb 2020.

i mostly spent my first day in centro habana exploring, with no real plan. i had most of my conversations on this day and got to wander or be still, sometimes alone sometimes with whoever i met along the way.

cuba havana
first shot of the trip. holding the camera after such a long while is a magical feeling

la universidad de la habana.

i got pulled into one of those 'tours' by a local who could see how in love i was with the city. his name was ricardo and he did, bless him, have a strong love for history and made a point of highlighting black historical moments too. in all honesty i'm not mad because the situation in cuba is tricky and i am in a privileged position. but it was a bit annoying because my tour guide told me he was a maths lecturer which he definitely wasn't. also awkward because i later saw him in a bar in centro habana living life large, definitely not teaching. you have to take the good with the bad while travelling and you have to laugh.

exploring centro habana.

i took this one wandering aside the malecón that stretches from one end of havana to the other. the malecón is gorgeous. it was something i did a few times during this trip and it was always lively. the waters are so violent and commanding that i didn't risk taking my camera out for a picture, you'll have to trust me and go visit yourself.

a salsa teacher in centro habana showed me this area with strong celebration of afro-cuban vibes. the salsa teacher liked ziggy marley and wanted me to see that the jamaican love was widespread in cuba.

a statue of josé martí - cuban revolutionist and a national hero in the fight for independence.

the famous capitolio. in my opinion it sticks out in the architecture and pure warmth of the city but it is a key attraction for tourists and cubans. i have several short stories from walking past or around this building. i'll share two here. before taking this picture i met a cuban who moved to new york and had apparently been kicked out (?) of cuba because of disagreeing with the government but was now back on a limited visit. he was lovely and recommended spots for reggae music. after taking this shot i end up in a restaurant louder than it is big enough for. the live music is worth it and here i meet an american solo traveller obsessed with the singer's lung capacity and also the lack of protein available in meals for vegetarians/vegans. she took out a peanut bar to show me how she was managing.

end of day one. this is the bottom of calle neptuno- the beginning of a 30 minute walk back to my casa where, en route, a conversation or dance or jokey outburst is guaranteed. i guess in true island style, streets fill up when the sun begins to set.

tuesday 11 feb. my birthday.

after exploring with no real plan on monday, i decided that this is how to be in la habana. i knew i was making my way to habana vieja and also wanted to see a 'book fayre' as recommended by my lovely host. i also promised the salsa teacher that i'd attend a class and spend my birthday dancing. none of these plans go as expected (maybe i will share the story later) and i spend the day learning to not mention that it is my birthday but loving the love i received. but before all of that:

started the day exploring old havana.

made a scorpio (ex)friend - maybe i will tell the story later

possibly the quietest part of old havana, of course i found it.

i have a serious love for balconies, i find them so romantic and perfect for people-watching and letting your hair dry while you take in the overwhelming city from a height. one day i will live somewhere where this is normal and not too expensive.

found my way to a lively street in old havana, cannot remember the name of the street. i came across this bookshop and i don't think there was any other way for me to be myself on my birthday. there are two men at the back of the bookshop (you can only see one) having a deep conversation. when i walk in, the one with locs asks me 'where in the world are you visiting from?' and there is something about the question that always stuck with me for some reason.

also, here i ask for the poetry section and find loads of collections by josé martí (see earlier statue reference). it really confused me and took me a while to realise this was the same person. i found it so interesting that one of the most revered voices and founders of cuba's revolution was a poet.

fin. until part two.

thank you for experiencing the photo diary.

Yah bless

Amara Amaryah


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