I write about Cuba for the international press and contribute to several travel guides to the island. My latest Cuba guide is Frommer’s EasyGuide to Cuba.
I also work as a consultant, translator, tour leader and guide in Cuba.
Over the last 15 years I’ve also become a Guatemala, Laos and Vietnam travel expert, and I’ve happily got lost in the imperial cities of Morocco for several publishers. The 4th edition of the Time Out Marrakech guide, which I edited and wrote for, was published in September 2014.
I write and photograph for magazines, newspapers, guidebooks, and online media, and I’ve edited more than 30 country, regional and city guides for UK publishers.
My most recent articles on Cuba include 24 Hours in Havana for American Express, Following in the footsteps of Fidel Castro: 10 must visit sights in Cuba for Telegraph Travel, Havana Rising for Millennia Magazine, and off-the-beaten track homestays across the island for the Guardian. My most recent articles on Vietnam and Laos include kayaking the world’s largest active river cave for Wanderlust magazine, a Luang Prabang 3-day holiday itinerary for the Guardian, the rebranding of the party town of Vang Vieng in Laos for the Guardian, and Vietnam’s China Beach 50 years after American troops first landed for the Daily Telegraph.
I spoke about Cuba and answered questions at the Royal Geographical Society in London in October 2014 during its Discovering Cuba evening. I’ve appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Excess Baggage talking to presenter John McCarthy about travel in Cuba and on Simon Calder’s LBC Travel Show travel show talking about Hanoi during its 1000th birthday celebrations in 2010. In February 2016, I appeared on US radio, NPR’s OnPoint with Tom Ashbrook talking about travel to Cuba.
In 2013, I started working in Cuba with Smithsonian Journeys who offer legal People-to-People tours for US travellers to the island nation. Since then, I have worked with National Geographic Expeditions, the Environmental Defense Fund, National Geographic Society board members, and the New York Times Journeys programmes to Cuba. I also began work with the UK’s Political Tours in Cuba in 2016.
An exhibition (Cuban Stories) of some of my photographs was held at Casa, Floridita, London.
The images were also exhibited at Rich Mix. The Guardian profiles these images at: www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/gallery/2010/feb/04/cuba-photography-exhibition-rich-mix
My photo commissions can be found here.
I started my writing life as a qualified NCTJ journalist in Kent and London before the lure (school geography lessons, plus Redmond O’Hanlon’s travels) of South America saw me backpack from the glacial tail of Chile to the steamy tip of Colombia. After a run-in with a piranha in Bolivia, becoming trapped in a sea lion flash mob in the Galápagos, and a sand boarding accident in Peru, I was hooked.
I moved to Barcelona to learn Spanish before becoming fluent in the Peruvian Amazon where I volunteered to capture snakes, frogs and lizards for a rainforest charity project. A flesh-eating tropical disease, followed by a stay at the unit for people under the influence of foreign critters at University College Hospital in London, only strengthened my resolve to return to Latin America.
Inspired by a friend’s tale of hearing Elton John’s eulogy Candle in the Wind set to reggae in the barrios of Cuba, and the knowledge that Pope John Paul II had requested Fidel Castro reintroduce Christmas Day as a public holiday, I left for the Caribbean.
I arrived in Havana a few days before Christmas 1998 with a Mum-made Christmas cake. Cuban customs insisted the cake went through X-ray, quizzed me about its cultural connotations and gasped at its monster weight. I’ve been returning to Cuba ever since.