Didier Cayrac Photography | Postcards from... Cuba – 5 – Santiago de Cuba, the rebel of the South East

Postcards from... Cuba – 5 – Santiago de Cuba, the rebel of the South East

March 09, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Santiago has to be deserved – it's very far in the South East of Cuba, and only highly motivated tourists make it all the way there. For me, it took a 13 hour bus ride... I was expecting to find a remote, quiet provincial town. I was so wrong. Santiago is the most vibrant and edgy Cuban city I've visited (far more so than Havana!)

[Version française ici]

It's main, pedestrian street is lively day and night.

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018 Some of its shops even look somewhat modern.

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

People look cooler ...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

... more vibrant ...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018 ... tougher ...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018 ... edgier ...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018    Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

... more daring ...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

... bolder ...

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... wilder, even ...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

... more laid back ...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

... more connected ...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

... happier ...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

... freer ...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018   Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

... even more direct ...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

... and overall, more relaxed.

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

Even the most unlikely pedestrians on the streets manage to somehow look cool!

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

Like in the rest of Cuba, the 1950s American cars give an amazing vibe to the city ...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

... and in Santiago, they seemed even bigger to me ...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018 ... their original engines are sometimes positively monstrous ...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018 ... but their age make them rather high maintenance ...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

... and sometimes, open heart surgery is required.

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

The (relative) freedom felt here seems to even translate into some liberty of expression, like for this cartoonist, who doesn't hesitate to make pointed caricatures (the one he showed me of Trump was definitely NSFW...) and satirical drawings. I found the juxtaposition of his personal interpretation of Courbet’s “The Origin of the World” with the Che’s portrait (behind him) quite striking. I wish my Spanish had been better - I would have loved to have a deeper conversation with him.

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

Culture is visibly an important part of people's lives in Santiago ...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

... even in the streets ...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

... although the most popular game clearly remains dominos.

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

The local Party office is quite decrepit ...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

... but the official propaganda, not particularly subtle ...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

... is rife across the city.

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

Incidentally, Santiago is the only place in Cuba where I actually witnessed a traffic jam!

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018 In Santiago also, music is everywhere. In the streets ...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018    Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

... and even on the walls.

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

Dance seems to be an even more intrinsic part of life than in other parts of Cuba.

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018   Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

Committed and passionate salsa dancers from around the world come to Santiago to take lessons and improve, sometimes with professional dance companies like the amazing Sabor DKY / Sabor D'Calle, led by Yanek Revilla. Sabor DKY creates fantastic shows, both for the local and international scenes.

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018    Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

Then, tourists and Cubans meet in the famous, sometimes open air dance halls like La Claqueta.

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

In Cuba, dancing is an integral part of life. It starts (very!) young, and can blend into play and sports ...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018 For older kids, football/soccer has a special intensity, especially when it's played bare feet ...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

... but baseball is also very popular.

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

Still, not everything is edgy in Santiago of course. Most beauty salons look positively "vintage"

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018   Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018    

Like in the rest of the country, most of the trade is carried out in the street ...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

... or on its edge.

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Bread is very artisanal, and comes in one type and shape.
As far as ice cream is concerned, if you don't like the flavor of the day... feel free to try your luck again another day!

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018   Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

Oh, and Santiago de Cuba also has some interesting architecture, like the Cathedral N.S. de la Ascunción on Parque Cespedes!

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

This concludes my series of articles on Cuba!

You liked reading this article? Please share it! Thank you! – and comments are always welcome.
And if you liked this one, you will probably also enjoy my other articles on Cuba:

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018 Cuba – Havana • La Havane • La Habana – 2018Cuba – Havana • La Havane • La Habana – 2018 DSC_5567DSC_5567 Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018
My first impressions of Cuba, including my favorite pictures of Cuba overall - the article to read first and foremost 😉 A trip back to the 1950s in present day Havana, Amazing nature in the West: Viñales & Cayo Levisa island. Back to the 19th century & amazing nature – Trinidad & area, incl. Cienfuegos, the Escambray range, and the Valley de los Ingenios

 

Since you read this all the way to the end... one last Cuban American car, for the road...

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018

And as a parting thought...

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018


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