Not long ago, I had the unique opportunity of accompanying a group of photographers to the Republic of Cuba. Growing up in the States, Cuba was a country I could only read about in books, hear of on the news, or occasionally grab a glimpse of through the little imagery to which we had access. In more recent years, however, the U.S. Department of Treasury has allowed travel to the country, with the proper acquisition of a travel license. So, when the opportunity came, it was a place I had to go.
What originally set out to be a personal expedition into the culture & traditional fare that define the people and their country, quickly transformed into a compelling journey through a socialist republic. The three-week long excursion, from Havana to Santiago, was about everything but the traditional foods of a particular society. Although well-aware of the history and the current state of social economics I was walking into; no books, newscasts, words, or images could have ever prepared me for the country I encountered.
It is an extraordinary country beaming with beautiful, proud people, that I found nearly impossible to truly grasp through any lens. Cuba is place you must see + feel. And so today, I would like to share a few images of my humble journey, in hopes to inspire more to go and meet the people and places of Cuba.
Along the Havana coastline spans a five-mile long seawall called The Malecón. Sitting in a subtropical climate, most days, the Malecón is filled with young adults cavorting and diving off into the warm waters of the gulf.
Walking through the city center of Havana will take you back in time, as car models whiz by from the 1950's - the last models imported before the embargo began. They are a sign of the times in more ways than one for the country, as the new economic policies imposed by the government in the late 50's prevented Cubans from purchasing vehicles via credit. Shortly thereafter, in 1960, the U.S. ceased all trade with Cuba, which is where a majority of the automobile imports came from.
Sunset over Havana's El Barrio.
Taking a walk through the streets of Santiago and Havana, mostly filled with dilapidated homes abandoned decades ago, and many of which house multiple families now.
A warm welcome from the children residing on a fisherman island off the coast of Havana.
We woke up early one Saturday morning to photograph Cuba in its silent hours; along the trek, we came upon local butchers preparing their outdoor market for the day.
Settling into The Tropicana for an evening of music, Mojitos, and a taste of the Cuban nightlife.
These are just a few of the people I met along the way. Every face told a new story, and it was my privilege to listen to every one of them. Cubans are proud people with radiant spirits and even bigger hearts. Not long after my visit, a devastating hurricane swept through Cuba, displacing many of our new friends from their already broken homes. Some of them made it through, and for others, all I can do is hope that their resilience and courage carried them to safety.
This post is dedicated to the People of Cuba and their families, where ever they may be.