The International Steam Pages
The ultimate Cuba Sugar CD is now available. There are more than 1500 pictures from over 20 different photographers who have visited Cuba from 1980 to the present day. Each image is designed to be presented on a 800x600 (sVGA) screen using 'Hi-color setting'. Most of the pictures have never been published and this is the definitive record of the last place in the world where you can see American short line standard and narrow gauge steam at work.
All the major American Builders: Baldwin, Porter, Vulcan Iron Works, Davenport, Alco
(and their constituent companies Cooke, Rogers).
Zafra is available for the Windows 95
and later platforms only (not 3.1 or Mac).
You can pay directly with Paypal quoting or use the Buy Now button below. I do not accept credit or debit cards directly, but non-Paypal account holders can use their cards by choosing the 'guest' option offered by clicking the Buy Now button.
I would prefer UK residents to send a cheque or make online payment, I can advise an address/account. Please send your orders to the email address below.
Dropbox download, I have withdrawn the CD version as I have to buy a colour ink cartridge if I get an order!
Alternatively send an email to , indicating where you would like the CD sent and I will advise available methods which will avoid excessive bank charges.
(IMPORTANT: the addresses with "@" above are NOT LINKS which can be clicked, they are images, you will have to retype them for an email or Paypal transaction. Sorry but that has to be done to try to prevent the address being spammed.
Non UK EU customers should note that for VAT purposes you are actually paying for a plain vanilla CD version without Jewel case which I will retain here unless you are willing to pay extra for posting it to you. The Download will then be free,
"Zafra" is the third CD-Rom produced by Rob Dickinson and Images of Rail. As the title suggests, it is devoted to the sugar railways of Cuba. To my mind it encapsulates both the strengths and weaknesses of the medium.
The strength of course lies in the vast amount of information which can be stored on a CD-Rom - in the case of "Zafra", 1,500 images, 50 maps and text. Right up front it must be said that this CD-Rom represents a quantum leap in the way this material is presented when compared to the first one produced by Rob, "Sweet Dreams".
"Zafra" is basically divided into three sections. One provides a photo portrait of about 450 of the approximately 600 steam locos which survived to be renumbered in the 1974 MINAZ scheme, plus a few others. Those locos not illustrated had by and large been scrapped before enthusiasts started visiting the island in about 1980 and were probably never photographed. This part of the CD-Rom is rather hardcore.
A second section looks at the more important mills with steam activity. For each mill there is a brief description of its history, location, workings etc and, most useful of all, a map - ideal if you are planning a trip to Cuba. This is then followed by a number of images, illustrating operations at the mill in question, with further background details provided in the short but informative captions. There is also a complete list of mills, plus an explanation of the mill numbering system.
For me the best section is the third, simply entitled "Zafra". This provides us with a pictorial survey of Cuban sugar operations and includes a discussion of the history of the Cuban sugar railways and their locomotives. The images are presented thematically, with such titles as "Highball" or "For the Narrow Minded". This works very well and, with the pictures ranging from portrait shots, to straightforward front three-quarter views, to the more impressionistic, there is something here to suit every taste. Additionally, there are short sections looking at the electric Hershey Railway, diesels both on the FCC main line and in sugar factories, plus a delightful selection of old b/w photographs. Overall the balance is just right and everything fits together well.
The weakness of the CD-Rom? In a nutshell: is more better? Is working in a chocolate factory or a brewery all it might seem? Consider a slide show: 300 slides are enjoyable, whilst 500, however good, start to become interminable. In "Zafra" we have 1,500 images and it can all easily become de trop. What I was left with was confirmation of my long held suspicion that, take away the thick black clag and the charms of US motive power (not to speak of the après-grice), then Cuba is by and large not up to much photographically. I'm sure this was not Rob's intention.
Of course I doubt whether many would share my view of Cuba (everybody I know who's been there positively enthuses about the place). Equally it would be foolish to try and see everything on this CD-Rom at one sitting. Viewed intelligently and with discretion, "Zafra" has a great deal to offer and much of it is of the highest quality. And if I am not quite as enthusiastic about it as I was about "Incredible Indonesia" - despite the enormous improvement in technique - I suspect it is largely because I feel both Cuba and its steam lack the variety and interest of Java. Over 1,500 images this flaw is compounded. Nonetheless, "Zafra" is very much recommended whether you have already fallen under the spell of Cuba or have yet to take the plunge.