Isla de la Juventud – The Isle of Youth, Cuba

Jan 17, 2018 - Harmony V


Following a calm, relaxing night on the anchor, today we went ashore as the legendary Isla de la Juventud, or Isle of Youth. Pirates called it Parrot Island, but it was here that Fidel Castro was held as a political prisoner, then later populated the island with young people, built schools and re-named the island.

Our first stop was the infamous prion of Persidio Modelo, characterized by its gigantic round concrete buildings modeled after the prison in Joliet, Illinois. The prison buildings are photogenic but spooky. More than 3,000 prisoners, many political, were held here at any one time, including Fidel Castro between 1953-55.

During the afternoon we had free time to explore town and meet the people of Nueva Gerona. One of the best things about being a photographer is you’re your camera is a passport to meeting people. And what’s so wonderful about Cuba is when people see your camera, they invite you to take pictures. All of us on the Photo expedition are “on assignment” as People-to-People ambassadors, making images that tell the story of the Cuban people.

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About the Author

Ralph Lee Hopkins

National Geographic Photographer

Santa Fe-based photographer Ralph Lee Hopkins is founder and director of the Expedition Photography program for the Lindblad-National Geographic alliance. For more than 20 years he has lead expeditions from the Arctic to Antarctica and points in between.

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