Four days was certainly too short of a time to have traveled to Cuba and yet, despite the brief stay, it certainly didn’t take away for a minute the feeling of having been emotionally moved by it’s absolute breathtaking and impactful views. I loved every moment of it. I think it was beautiful and while the experience in the country was sort of what I envisioned, I’m equally pressed to believe it was a journey I could not have primed myself for either. Sure I had my camera equipment, sure I had sufficient money and sure I had my own double-ply toilet paper stowed in my backpack which I had read was a must to carry around based on it’s scarcity but what was difficult to prepare for was the context in which you’ll be using everything you brought along.
Visually I felt I knew Cuba based. I mean, we’ve seen photos and footage of it back here in the states: remnants of dilapilated homes, the chaotic energy on the streets, the high waist grass pertruding from residential sidewalks, the children playing soccer along the narrow streets, the classic 1950s Cadillacs, the throngs of people gathering to admire sunset along El Malecon (the large sea wall that curves around the edge of Old Havana). To an extent, yes, it was all of that. At one point, it became difficult to resist not documenting the pictureque Cuba we’ve seen and yet in between conversations and being fixated with all the newness around us, it became apparent throughout this experience that Cuba is not just this one thing we know it for. It’s a myriad of other things as well. My approach in this journey was to attempt to navigate through a different path among the ongoing conversation regarding this place. To me this entailed taping into what makes up the fabric of the county: yes the landscape but equally important the culture and the people along the way.