Although dictator Batista lost power to Fidel Castro’s forces in the fifties, there is no disputing the fact that Cuba is still pretty much the same as it was then. This Caribbean island is for sure a nation in amber and there is a lot that needs to be done especially with the deteriorating standards of life.

The beautifully built but deteriorating architecture that is influenced by the Spanish is where government workers call home and also where state owned hotels and restaurants are located. One thing that you will notice when you walk the streets is music from the bars and clubs reminiscent of the Buena Vista Social Club. You also cannot help but notice children playing in the streets. The cars that ply the roads here are the best GM cars from the fifties, they however look a lot different with homemade parts and belching smoke.

With the change of guard, the communists took away all the private property. People were put to work and for that, they earn an average of nineteen dollars a month. The only thing that seems to keep them going is the fact that they are housed for free in deteriorating government buildings, have free medical care, and are given free education. However, life is tough because even with the subsistence food rations from the state, there is nothing much that one can do even when they have a masters degree.

While on a tour in Cuba, Frank Barnako and photojournalist Peter Turnlay traveled under an educational/cultural expedition license, their goal was to experience the culture of the Cuban people. They hoped to take some great photos of colorful, dramatic, vibrant, and sensual places. However, what remains in their memories are the welcoming and warm multicultural people that they met.

Images: Frank Barnako