Travel

Kuba in Cuba

Havana felt like my childhood.

2016 was an important year for Cuba. Warming relations with the United States, Fidel Castro's Death. It was also the year I travelled there. You could see there is something changing, modern cars are starting to dominate the streets, and that those could be last years of Cuba in this form. We'll see.

In Havana I stayed with two different local families, which was probably most cost-friendly and interesting option. Both of them lived in Centro Habana neighbourhood. In opposition to touristic and overpacked Old Havana (Habana Vieja) this sector allowed me to be a witness of regular life of Cubans, which I was really curious about. Staying with the families gave me an extra acces to see their life up close and from the inside.

The city itself is simply amazing, although heavily damaged! I was surprised by its size, looks like many different cities combined into one. At times I felt like I was in a colonial town, then as if I was walking down Wall Street in New York, just a few blocks more and I was somewhere in Europe, then I moved back in time to my native Poland modernist period. I discovered many connections between those two countries.

In many ways Havana felt like my childhood in Poland. I grew up during the transition from communism to capitalism, where the last years of communism were really difficult. I don't remember that part, I know it from my grandparents tales - waiting in huge lines for hours, empty shelves. But for me those were mostly good memories. When the streets used to be so alive and full of people. The time when we played in front of our houses with friends, and our parents/grandparents, were watching over us through the window or from the nearby bench, while having a chat. When people tend to connect more and we weren’t hiding behind the walls and mobile devices.

Cuba car Vintage
havana José Martí memorial
Malecon Havana Cuba
school uniforms havana
Havana centro photography car
Havana Centro
Patterns staircase Havana Cuba
Portrait Havana
Kids streets havana
Cuba street walk
Playing chess Havana cuba
Flirting Paseo de Prado Havana
old car havana
Havana Cuba
Portrait on street Havana
school uniform Cuba
Chinatown Cuba havana
kid street havana
Running Havana Centro
Portrait woman Havana
classic car Havana malecon

In Havana the majority of restored, vintage cars with shining paint serve as taxi cabs for tourists, while beat up versions are taxi cabs for the locals.

Blue classic car Havana
food shop havana
rickshaw havana Cuba
Internet access in Cuba

Access to the internet is limited in Cuba. There are only certain spots in Havana where you can connect via wifi, after buying special card in quiosco (kiosk). You can connect only for limited number of hours per week.

 

flirting Cuba
baseball on the street Havana
Havana dog
Hemingway alike havana
sculpturing street havana
cooks Havana Bakery
Russian Embassy Havana Brutalism

Example of brutalist architecture - Embassy of Russia (formerly Soviet) in Havana.

sky over Havana
Havana Malecon composition photo
fishing landscape havana
Havana Landscape

Deep into RAAS, Nicaragua - documentary photography for NGO

Nicaragua RAAS photography

Photography for NGO

I've worked with Fabretto Children's Foundation for some time and this time we travelled really deep into Nicaragua’s most isolated region: the Southern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (RAAS). The whole goal of this journey was to document the effort and commitment of both kids, and teachers who  travel long, dangerous distances to learn and share their knowledge.

To get there, we first drove six hours from Managua to Nueva Guinea, and hitchhiked in the back of a truck along a  dirt road for four hours. When the road ended, we made the switch to  horseback riding for another five hours on a long ridge traversing across valleys and rivers. There were moments I felt as though I was back in the XIX century, traveling with a group of cowboys, somewhere in the wild west. Nicaragua can be as treacherous as beautiful. One of our guides fell off the horse and got injured while trying to climb a knoll. He had to walk the rest of the way, which slowed us down.

The heat and harsh sun got us – we arrived at our destination really exhausted. Luckily, we were very well received with a "sopa de gallina" (chicken soup). It's quite delicious and helps to get your energy back. I had brought my own hammock to spend the night, but when the  host –a local  teacher–offered her bed, I could not refuse it.  Little did I know that the 'bed' was basically a wooden board covered with a sheet.

“I can get use to it,” I thought to myself.  Let’s just say - it wasn’t the best night of my life. OUCH! Such is life in the tropics :) In places like this, without electricity and running water, it's the sun that determines the rhythm of the day.  You go to sleep shortly after the sunset, and wake up with the first rays - around Five o'clock in the morning.

Kids are not exempt from this rule. Jarelis, a nine-year-old girl, wakes up when it’s still dark outside to help her mother at home. Everyday, she  collects  wood for the stove, feeds the animals, takes a bath in the nearby river, and washes her own clothes.Once she’s done with household chores, Jarelis walks for over an hour across the jungle – crossing rivers and mountains – to reach school.   During the rainy season,  her journey to school cannot be completed. Due to the strong currents, crossing the river is too great of a risk, forcing her to turn around. I had the opportunity to witness her dangerous trip to school.  We've accompanied her on that journey.


Z Fundacją Fabretto współpracuje od jakiegoś juz czasu. Tym razem podróżowaliśmy daleko w głąb Nikaragui. Do osady położonej w jednym z najtrudniej dostępnych regionów -  Południowo Karaibski Autonomiczny Region Nikaragui (RAAS). Celem wyprawy było udokumentowanie wysiłku i poświecenia uczniòw i nauczycieli - tych pierwszych w zdobywaniu wiedzy, tych drugich, w dzieleniu się nią.

By dotrzeć do RAAS wpierw musieliśmy przebyć drogę z Managui do Nowej Gwinei, co zajęło nam około sześć godzin. Potem cztery godziny na pace 'pick-upa' wyboistą drogą (a raczej zlepkiem dziur i mulu). Gdy owa ‘droga’ się skończyła , przesiedliśmy się na konie i dodatkowe pięć godzin spędziłem na grzbiecie pokonując wzgórza, doliny i rzeki. Podróżując w grupie jeźdzców poprzez dziewicze, dzikie, tereny czułem się niczym kowboj przeniesiony w czasie. Ale Nikaragua potrafi byc zarówno piękna jak i zdradziecka i jeden z naszych przewodnikòw spadł z konia w trakcie pokonywanie jednego ze wzgórzy. Spowolniło to nieco nasza podròż, gdyż nie był juz w stanie wspiąć się na grzbiet i zmuszony był kontynuować resztę drogi pieszą. 

Upał i palące słońce nas dało nam się we znaki i na miejsce dojechaliśmy wykończeni. Ja miałem zostać w domu z nauczycielem, jego synami i przewodnikiem, podczas gdy moja towarzyszka z Fabretto, Elena, zostala oddelegowana do domu o zenskiej przewadze domownikòw. By ugościć przybysza w Nikaragui w zwyczaju jest by ubić kurę i zrobić rosół. (nieco inny w smaku niz ten polski ze wzgledu na bardziej egzotyczny dobòr warzyw). Wyborna i ożywiająca strawa dla strudzonego wędrowca. Nasz gospodarz zaoferował mi swòj pokòj i łoże, a ja ja nie potrafiąc odmowić, zaakceptowałem (pomimo iż zabrałem ze sobą hamak). Jak się okazało, łòżko to zwykła deska z nałożonym cienkim prześcieradłem. Nie żebym byl wielkim mieszczuchem, ale poobijałem się przez te kilka nieprzespanych nocy. ;) 

W miejscach jak to, bez elektrycznosci i bierzącej wody to słońce wyznacza rytm dnia i ludzie kładą się spać zaraz po jego zachodzie, a wstają wraz z pierwszymi jego promieniami - o piatej rano. Dotyczy to wszystkich, także dzieci.
Jarelis, dziewięcioletnia uczennica i jedna z bohaterek naszego reportażu, wstaje kazdego dnia o tej porze. Przed pòjściem do szkoły musi zdażyć pomòc mamie; nazbierać drewno na opał, nakarmić zwierzęta, wykąpać się w pobliskiej rzece także uprać tam ubrania. Zaraz po tym czeka ją ponad godzinna wyprawa do szkoly przez dzunglę, rzeki i wzgorza. W czasie pory deszczowej bywa to niemozliwe. Ja towarzyszyłem jej w tej podróży - tam i z powrotem.

 

 

It might look fun but that's actually the least pleasing part, packed on the back of the truck through the bumpy dirt roads. 

It might look fun but that's actually the least pleasing part, packed on the back of the truck through the bumpy dirt roads. 

Across the Nicaraguan rivers. 

Across the Nicaraguan rivers. 

The house I stayed in.

The house I stayed in.

Good night RAAS. 'La profesora' (the school teacher and my host) lighting the candle on the little Altar before going to bed.

Good night RAAS. 'La profesora' (the school teacher and my host) lighting the candle on the little Altar before going to bed.

Good morning.

Good morning.

To get to school you need to break through the jungle first. Jarelis - first on the left. 

To get to school you need to break through the jungle first. Jarelis - first on the left. 

Then there is a river. It may look beautiful during the dry season, but becomes dangerous during the rainy season - really deep with strong current.

Then there is a river. It may look beautiful during the dry season, but becomes dangerous during the rainy season - really deep with strong current.

And as you can see above it's not that easy to cross it even during the nicaraguan summer. One bad step, and you end up soaked. 

And as you can see above it's not that easy to cross it even during the nicaraguan summer. One bad step, and you end up soaked. 

Classroom Nicaragua. 

Classroom Nicaragua. 

Jarelis, a nine-year-old girl, gets up for school at 5AM. She helps her mother prepare breakfast by bringing the wood for the stove. After, she will feed the animals. She must cross two rivers and go up and down various hills to get to her school. You can fin out more   here

Jarelis, a nine-year-old girl, gets up for school at 5AM. She helps her mother prepare breakfast by bringing the wood for the stove. After, she will feed the animals. She must cross two rivers and go up and down various hills to get to her school. You can fin out more here

Older Grades.

Older Grades.

RAAS-45.jpg
Map of Nicaragua.

Map of Nicaragua.

Walking back from school - Up the mountain with umbrellas to hide from burning Nicaraguan sun.

Walking back from school - Up the mountain with umbrellas to hide from burning Nicaraguan sun.

Crossing the jungle on the way home.

Crossing the jungle on the way home.

Everyday you learn something new - it' not  an orange. It's 'lemon dulce' (sweet lemon)

Everyday you learn something new - it' not  an orange. It's 'lemon dulce' (sweet lemon)

Little ducklings. During the night, while sleeping, they we attacked constantly by ants. The ants bite duckling causing paralysis. Then they it it alive. Most of the homes are of dirt floors and wooden boards for walls, and people live with their animals. 

Little ducklings. During the night, while sleeping, they we attacked constantly by ants. The ants bite duckling causing paralysis. Then they it it alive. Most of the homes are of dirt floors and wooden boards for walls, and people live with their animals. 

 5 am.  Getting ready to go back. 

 5 am. Getting ready to go back. 

Western movie feeling.

Western movie feeling.

On the left - That's how we roll.      On the right - Fabretto Foundation Annual report cover with pictures that I took in RAAS. You Can see the whole version   here  (click)

On the left - That's how we roll.      On the right - Fabretto Foundation Annual report cover with pictures that I took in RAAS. You Can see the whole version here (click)

"The Golden Prague", street photography

Prague, Czech Republic

It's funny, often we don't notice what's right next to us. When I was living in Bielsko-Biala (Poland) I used to travel to farther destinations, thinkings I will always have time to see what's near me. Now, after spending few years in Nicaragua I discover how much I missed. Bielsko is only half an hour from Czech Republic! We just crossed the border in polish Cieszyn, took a train from czech part of the city, four hours and "voilà", here we are in Prague! Easy, cheap, fast.

I have to admit that the legacy of Austro-Hungarian Empire is impressive, Prague is simply beautiful. The quality of light was stunning - warm, soft, bouncing gently off the creamy walls. When mixed with yellow city lights during the late afternoon hours it was giving the impression like if the whole city was made of gold. There is definitely a reason why they call it "The Golden City" (Zlatá Praha).


Zabawne, ale czasem nie dostrzegamy tego co blisko. Kiedy mieszkałem w Bielsku-Bialej zwykłem podróżować daleko, mysląc iz zawsze znajdę czas na to co blisko mnie. Teraz, po kilku latach w Nikaragui dostrzegam ile przeoczyłem. Bielsko znajduje się jedynie pół godziny drogi od Republiki Czeskiej. Wystarczyło przekroczyć granice w Cieszynie, złapac pociąg po czeskiej stronie, cztery godziny z książka w przedziale i "voilà" - jesteśmy w Pradze; Łatwo, szybko, tanio.

Muszę przyznac iż dziedzictwo Imperium Austiacko-Węgierskiego robi wrażenie, Praga jest po prostu piekna. Do tego z perspektywy fotografa jakos swiatła była niesamowita; cieple, miękkie, odbijało się od kremowych ścian. Późnym popołudniem, w polaczeniu ze swiatłami miasta, dawało wrażenie jakby całe miasto pokryte było złotem. Nie bez powodu nazywają je Złotą Pragą (Zlatá Praha).

Prague castle
Train station in Cieszyn

Train station in Cieszyn

prague tram
Prague bridge
Prague monument
Prague Fashion
Swans flying over the city.

Swans flying over the city.

university Prague
Prague trams
Feeding swans with grandma.

Feeding swans with grandma.

Prague lunch photography
golden prague
Prague love kiss
Prague landscape
River Prague lunch
Prague Castle
Solecita in Prague
Graffiti prague
Night life by the Vltava river

Night life by the Vltava river

prague river nightlife
Vltava river

Vltava river

taging