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  • The real Cuba - 1 of 29

    The real Cuba

    The door to Cuba is opening slowly, permitting glimpses once off-limits to U.S. travelers, thanks to the Obama administration which, in 2011, reactivated the licensed people-to-people programs begun in 2000 but quashed by Bush in 2003. Insight Cuba, which pioneered the programs in 2000, was the first company to send Americans to Cuba under the new regulations in August 2011. Shown here, a familiar scene in Havana, noted for its vintage '50s cars and its vibrant artwork. Photo courtesy of Insight Cuba.

  • The real Cuba - 2 of 29

    The real Cuba

    Ballerinas at the Pro Danza dance company in Havana. Unless otherwise note, photos are by Gay Nagle Myers; posted Nov. 5, 2013

  • The real Cuba - 3 of 29

    The real Cuba

    Members of the Pro Danza dance company in Havana rehearse several hours a day each day.

  • The real Cuba - 4 of 29

    The real Cuba

    A work by sculptor and designer Jose Fuster.

  • The real Cuba - 5 of 29

    The real Cuba

    Azariel Santander Alcantera, a celebrated potter in the town of Trinidad, demonstrates his talent at his pottery wheel.

  • The real Cuba - 6 of 29

    The real Cuba

    A typical street scene in Havana.

  • The real Cuba - 7 of 29

    The real Cuba

    Cars from the '50s continue to be a staple of Cuban roads and transport.

  • The real Cuba - 8 of 29

    The real Cuba

    The Orquestra de Camara, a chamber music orchestra of seven musicians, performed for our group in Cienfuegos, Cuba.

  • The real Cuba - 9 of 29

    The real Cuba

    Schoolchildren were as curious about our group of Americans as we were about them.

  • The real Cuba - 10 of 29

    The real Cuba

    Caribbean lobsters, caught off Cuba's coasts, were served as a main course in several of Cuba's state-run and privately run restaurants.

  • The real Cuba - 11 of 29

    The real Cuba

    A dancer at the Palenque de los Congo Reales show in Trinidad exhibited fancy footwork and unstoppable energy.

  • The real Cuba - 12 of 29

    The real Cuba

    A boy peers out at the passersby on a street in Trinidad.

  • The real Cuba - 13 of 29

    The real Cuba

    Examples of art could be seen everywhere: in artists' studios, galleries or street kiosks.

  • The real Cuba - 14 of 29

    The real Cuba

    A poster at an artist's studio in Havana.

  • The real Cuba - 15 of 29

    The real Cuba

    Artists' studios showed evidence of works in progress.

  • The real Cuba - 16 of 29

    The real Cuba

    Graphic design is a popular art form in Cuba, and visitors come right into the workshops to see the presses at the Grafica de Cienfuegos in Cienfuegos on Cuba's south coast.

  • The real Cuba - 17 of 29

    The real Cuba

    The Cuban government is investing heavily in the restoration of crumbling mansions that line many streets in Havana. The pace of restoration is slow, but the results magnificent.

  • The real Cuba - 18 of 29

    The real Cuba

    The glittering Melia Cohiba hotel overlooking Havana's Malecon (seawall) is a state-run hotel for tourists.

  • The real Cuba - 19 of 29

    The real Cuba

    Transportation within Cuba takes many forms, including horse-drawn carriages that carry produce and passengers.

  • The real Cuba - 20 of 29

    The real Cuba

    Is this Paris or Havana? The night scene in parts of Havana Vieja (Old Havana) is reminiscent of similar scenes in Europe.

  • The real Cuba - 21 of 29

    The real Cuba

    The Cuban government is permitting more private enterprises to open, including renting rooms in private homes.

  • The real Cuba - 22 of 29

    The real Cuba

    Entrepreneurs operate small kiosks selling sweets, fruits and juices under regulations that now permit such businesses.

  • The real Cuba - 23 of 29

    The real Cuba

    Enterprising Cubans try to drum up sales for eggs, which are often in short supply in the bodegas and farmers markets where most Cubans shop.

  • The real Cuba - 24 of 29

    The real Cuba

    Cuban shoppers can find variety at the bustling farmers' markets in Havana, although the prices can be out of reach for many of them.

  • The real Cuba - 25 of 29

    The real Cuba

    Fruit displayed at a farmers market.

  • The real Cuba - 26 of 29

    The real Cuba

    Children at La Colmenita "Little Beehive" Children's Theater in Havana enjoy the art of dance at a young age.

  • The real Cuba - 27 of 29

    The real Cuba

    Angela is one of many dancers at the "Little Beehive" program in Havana, an after-school program funded by the government.

  • The real Cuba - 28 of 29

    The real Cuba

    Ernest Hemingway's fishing boat, Pilar, is on display at Finca Vigia, the author's home on the outskirts of Havana.

  • The real Cuba - 29 of 29

    The real Cuba

    Gay gets ready to light up a Cohiba. The cigars can be purchased for about $20, but forget about bringing them back to the U.S. Photo by Bill Jeffryes

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