A Window into Havana with @cubareporter

For more scenes from Cuba, be sure to follow @cubareporter as well as @khaversiddiqi and @low843 who are also in the country.

CNN International correspondent Patrick Oppmann (@cubareporter) has lived in Cuba for over two years with his wife and two children. Patrick shares scenes of daily life in Havana on Instagram, opening up a window into a part of the world many long to see and visit. “While the government lifted a ban on cell phones in 2008, Cubans do not have access to 3G networks and smart phones are an impossible expense in a country where most people make $20 a month. And, because of the US travel ban, Cuba is still off-limits to most Americans,” Patrick explains. “I feel particularly fortunate that I have been able to see so much of the island and report from here during a time when Cuba is undergoing long-awaited economic reforms.”

Patrick’s photos and videos document a city in the midst of change. “Havana is a strikingly beautiful city that has seen better days. Due to neglect and the punishing climate, much of the city has the appearance of a sunken ship. Architects estimate that every day several historic buildings collapse, so there is a sense of racing against time to photograph places that will soon disappear.” One of Patrick’s favorite places to photograph is the Malecón seawall that protects the city. “It has been called the largest sofa in the world and each day thousands of Cubans take to the wall to take a seat, share a bottle of rum, play music or just cool off from the stifling heat.” He also loves shooting street scenes: “Havana is a very spontaneous city and I always try and have a camera at the ready. Some of my favorite photographs are of things I happened to catch out of the corner of my eye; a guy riding on a cart being pulled by a goat, a teenager with an anti-government slogan tattooed on his neck, a fading billboard celebrating the revolution or two boys practicing their boxing stances in the street.”

Patrick’s inspiration comes from the the responses to his photos and videos. “I read lots of comments from Americans who wish they could visit the incredible island that’s just 90 miles away. I also enjoy receiving comments from many Cubans who, because of politics or Cuba’s financial problems, have had to leave the island,” he says. “They have written me to say that my photos provide a window to the homeland that they desperately miss. To have that kind of impact is both an extraordinary opportunity and privilege.”