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People of Cuba: A Photo Essay

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In just one month, I'm leading my first tour to Cuba, and I'm thrilled to go back to this little tropical island and experience the warm optimism of its people. Everywhere I went, Cubans were kind-hearted and friendly and full of energy, even the most elderly. That energy inspired the theme for the tour: "Out with the old energies and in with the new." Despite poverty and difficulties in their day-to-day lives, no one complained -- it's just how it is, and it isn't worth being unhappy about. These photos capture a little of the heart of the Cuban people I met and observed:

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A young boy flies a kite along the cobblestone streets in Trinidad's main square - this Cuban town just marked its 500th birthday.

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On a windy rooftop near the town square of Trinidad, a young group of musicians plays original Cuban music at a restaurant.

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The owner of a small B&B in Trinidad had just finished making dinner for us when she noticed I had a spot on my jacket- despite my protestations, she insisted on washing it out for me.

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In Havana's Plaza de Catedral, these cackling ladies take photos with the tourists, holding up foot-long stogies and looking like they are having fun every minute.

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A Cuban cowboy and his horse stop for a moment.

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At the world-famous Tropicana nightclub, the security guards wait for the floor show be over and the guests to come pouring out.

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At the historic Hotel National, a Cuban man poses with a statue of Nat King Cole, a frequent visitor to the island. The hotel bar is filled with photos and memorabilia of decades of prominent American visitors, even in the last half of the 20th Century.

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At the bar of La Floridita, where they invented the daiquiri, an amused brass Papa Hemingway overlooks the brisk trade.

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In every town I visited, impromptu bands are everywhere, playing both day and night.

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At Dos Hermanos Restaurant, the bartender stays busy with a constant setup of Mojitos and a friendly attitude.

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A local carriage driver sets up his horses and coaches before the next ride.

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This T-shirt was a little heartbreaking and a lot inspiring for me. We are so very lucky here, and yet we take so much for granted. The warmth of these women was so powerful and I was very grateful to get to meet them. They embodied the spirit of all those I encountered, ensuring that my first visit would not be my last.

All photos ©Halle Eavelyn, Spirit Quest Tours