Our Man in Havana (Buildering)

“Our Man in Havana” mantled onto the ledge, high above the Cathedral square in the heart of Habana Vieja. His distinctive red T-shirt was the perfect disguise in a country still celebrating Che Guevara and El Revolución.

In a few days, Barack Obama would become the first serving US President to visit Cuba in ninety years. The Presidential party would enter the Catedral de San Cristobél just below the ancient tower. It was essential that “Our Man” completed his mission before the Americans arrived.

Our Man in Havana gains a perfect vantage point, overlooking Plaza de la Catedral, ahead of the historic US Presidential visit to Cuba.

“Our Man in Havana” gains an ideal vantage point, overlooking Plaza de la Catedral, ahead of the historic US Presidential visit to Cuba. The tower was the perfect position to take the shot.

The USA don’t have a good track record in this part of the world and “Our Man in Havana” was determined to complete his mission before history repeats itself.

From his secret vantage point in the Cathedral tower, "Our Man in Havana" had a clear view of the ancient Plaza. He was determined to get his shot in before it was sullied by the gaudy hoardings and golden arches of another bloody MacDonalds.

From his vantage point high in the tower “Our Man in Havana” had a clear view of the ancient Plaza. He was determined to take the shot before the city changed forever. There will be boots on the ground soon. The shock troops of the cultural invasion will be advertising men. MacDonalds’ golden arches will arrive in the second wave, laying down a massive calorific barrage to cover the advance of Trump Towers and Wall Mart.

One of the few good things about Communism is advertising. There isn’t any. If American culture is on the way to Cuba, then this will change. The writing is already on the wall in Havana but mostly it isn’t trying to sell you the latest plastic gizmo or electronic doodad.

Like any big city the world over people are leaving their mark. Street culture is vibrant in Havana. Not least because they are such sociable people who live much of their lives outside rather than inside their homes.

As in all big cities, people are leaving their mark. Street culture is vibrant in Havana. Not least because they are vibrant, sociable people who live much of their lives in the street, rather than inside their homes.

The USA’s attempts to subjugate the island by force failed – the CIA backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 ended in a humiliating defeat for the USA and drove Cuba even closer to the Soviet Union.

The 100mm self-propelled cannon that Fidel Castro himself, supposedly saw off the US backed forces of the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Now standing proudly on a concrete plinth outside the Museo de la Revolucion

The 100mm self-propelled cannon that Fidel Castro himself, supposedly saw off the US backed forces of the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Now standing proudly on a concrete plinth outside the Museo de la Revolucion

The whole world held its breath in 1962 as the Cuban missile crisis brought the simmering Cold War to a terrifying boil and the world teetered on the brink of nuclear holocaust. The Cuban trade embargo by the US, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 and the resultant “Special Period”, brought untold hardship to Cuba – yet ordinary Cubans somehow remain cheerful, unbowed and justifiably proud of their beautiful country.

Our Man in Havana looking North, from Malacón towards the American Dream, contemplating the threats and opportunities on the horizon.

Looking North from Malacón towards the USA, contemplating the threats and opportunities the “American Dream” holds for the Cuban people.

“Our Man in Havana” relaxed, took a deep breath, slowly exhaled and squeezed off the first shot. The Secret Service can relax, President Obama is safe. There was nothing sinister about “Our Man’s” mission to capture images of Havana before it is irrevocably changed. Let’s hope the American Dream doesn’t become a Cuban nightmare.

Our Man in Havana checking out the tower, and doing a little Buildering. Beauty is in the eye of the Boulderer.

Our Man in Havana checking out the tower and taking a few shots of the old town before it changes. And of course, doing a little Buildering. After all “Beauty is in the eye of the Boulderer”

Car-and-corner-2200

People have been predicting change in Cuba for years. Let’s hope it is the sort of change the local people need. Get there quick, just in case Cuba is annexed by Disneyland Florida.

I’m looking forward to going back to explore the spectacularly featured limestone crags of Valle de Viñales. This little video gives a tantalising taster:

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