Forty-eight hours isn’t much time to get a sense of a nation and its rural challenges. The poverty is overwhelming. If there is relief from the poverty it is the fact that Cubans have little opportunity to experience the frustration that results from observing others who do not live in poverty. But there is no question that Cuba has seemed to work tirelessly to prevent the development of a middle class.
One of the questions raised with regard to rural Cuba was why there are no tractors. The answer was that by sharing the land among the rural families, individual plots were small enough to be worked relying solely on horses and oxen. As a result, there is no need for tractors. So there are none. Wow.
Not only is the land tilled by animals, they are a primary means of transportation. Riders on horses, wagons used for transporting people and materials.
Visiting a country in which we were surrounded by horses and oxen is an exciting, beautiful and exotic and experience. But it is no less a step back into history for most visitors.
The housing is both humble and primitive. Many homes had only three walls, with the open end of the house facing against the roads, giving families some element of privacy.
We never saw any evidence of affluence in rural Cuba.
And everywhere along the road we saw laborers, walking with their hats, their bags of unknown purpose, following paths through the countryside, symbolic of the lifestyle that has been chosen for them.
Habana, Cuba. In the states we refer to the city by the name Havana. But it is their country and it seems they should receive deference in how to spell it. Long forbidden to U.S. citizens, it is a place like no other. Just 90 miles from the United States, it is shrouded in mystery.
The sunrise over Habana Harbor on the second morning of our visit was as dramatic as the city. The sun was an intense reddish-orange and the clouds were dark as night.
As I watched, the sunlight produced a softer image of the city around us illuminating the sky and the Atlantic Ocean in muted shades of grays and blues.
Within just a few additional minutes, the colors and the texture of the city were in full view. This photograph reveals the contrast of the beauty and the decay that have enveloped Havana since Fidel Castro’s revolution. A revolution that has resulted in changes that continue to dominate life in Cuba more than 60 years later.
I had anticipated our trip to Cuba would be an exciting and a constantly changing experience for me, and for all the members of our tour. I was right.
Our journey had really just begun.
 These photographs were taken with my Nikon D5100 camera using a Tamron telephoto lens. They are not altered or enhanced. Their beauty and their flaws are all my own. To stabilize my camera for these slow shots, I leaned against the railing on my 17th floor hotel room and held tight.