In the weeks before booking my flight to Havana I had a one simple question in my mind, the question that I (and many photographers) make before each trip or assignment, specially when that trip or assignment is a location as heavily portrayed as Cuba: what would I do different? How can I run away from the cliches? How true is that argument (that I hate so much) that is now too spoiled and the “good time” to be there is gone forever? Should I even go? Almost all my travel destinations are chosen intuitively rather than rationally, I go with my gut-feeling for the final decision, and this case when a conveniently timed airline promotion came up (one destination on that day only) that gut-feeling told me it was it, making the decision process very, very easy. I was meant to go, no matter what.
As the day of my flight approached, my questions got a bit more specific. It was late June, the weeks before the opening of the US embassy in Havana, with the arrival of the US Secretary of State (the first in many decades). I was curious to see what that meant to the everyday life of the Cubans, if they were preparing for that specific event, but mostly, and more important, in what way they were looking forward for the changes that might be on the horizon, the big changes that would certainly follow up the quiet reforms of the last decade from Raul Castro, those small things like the loosening of restrictions on religion or the timid changes in privately owned businesses, a much more pragmatic and hands-on vision of the Cuban revolution.
As I might expected that hope for the future, that small anxiety is more felt and listened while having a cup of coffee than seen while walking the streets. Obviously, because there is nothing to be seen, as nothing has actually changed. Everything still is as it has been for some time, with the same complications in simple things like taking care of the groceries list or keeping all their current machinery in working condition, the old cars and everything else, because there are no spare parts coming when it breaks. Going back to my photographic issues, how to photograph this? Probably the best is not worry too much about it, just capture the small things as they happen, like that domino match in Vedado with lots of rum involved, the worries of the elderly Miriam and her crumbling “solar” or the tranquil expression in Eberto’s face on his day off…
You can also check a selection of single shots of Cuba.