It’s not the food, not the classic cars, nor the crumbling yet magnificent old buildings. It’s not the music, the dance, the mojitos, nor the abundance of great art. These are reasons enough to visit for sure, but for me, the reason I love Cuba is the people.
“No one could have invented Havana. It’s too audacious, too contradictory, and – despite 50 years of withering neglect – too damned beautiful.” Lonely Planet
“However you feel about the government, however you feel about the last 55 years, there aren’t any places in the world that look like this. I mean, it’s utterly enchanting.” Anthony Bourdain
Boys will be boys.
And girls will be girls.
Cuba is raw, life is lived on the streets and survival has its challenges. But alas, they shrug their shoulders and smile. That’s life in Cuba.
A fire in the belly is inherent in Cuban dancers. Having been a professional dancer, I’m aware that no matter how good a technician one might be, it’s the complete commitment to the movement and oomph that makes for a stand out performer. In Cuba, it’s the norm and not the exception.
Kenia backstage during the renovation of the Teatro Sauto.
A different kind of dance is performed on the half-hour at the Santa Ifigenia Cemetary in Santiago de Cuba.
A dock worker, one of three that tied up our cruise ship on my first visit to Cuba. Sadly no more cruises to Cuba from the USA.
Fun with the seniors at a daycare facility in Old Havana.
My friend Rolando. We met 8 years ago at Joe Dimaggio Children’s Hospital. He had just moved from Havana after having surgery for Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare cancer but more common in children. He is now 21 and wants to be a priest. Roly is praying the rosary in the rood loft at the Convento e Iglesia de la Merced in Old Havana. He along with his mom Tamara, have gone above and beyond to enhance my trips to Cuba.
On the wall in a bare room, with only the family Santeria alter, is a framed image of Nayelis, a young cancer patient. I had given her the print the day before. Photo Philanthropy, it’s a blessing to me.
Up to 15,000 devotees of Our Lady Of Mercy come to pray and participate in the procession in Old Havana.
Men at work.
I had the good fortune of attending a rooftop service of the Metropolitan Community Church on a rooftop, at 8:30 at night with my friend Luis. It was founded in 1968 as a fellowship of inclusion. They stand up for social justice and civil rights for the LGBTQ community. The pastor Elaine Saralegui was gracious and kind. I found the traditional and spiritual communities in Cuba to be very open and embracing.
Boxing in Cuba is very popular. These women were fierce.
A man and his puppets. Senén Calero. The artistry in Cuba is everywhere.
Kidlets and a local composer from the Kairo Center in Matanzas. A center that integrates art and social services.
Manuel Hernandez and his grandson in his Galeria Taller “Lolo“ in Mantanzas. Manuel became famous as a political illustrator and now works as a painter, potter, sculptor, and all-around fabulous artist. If you’re there, his studio is a must-visit.
Thank you for taking the time to scroll through to the end. I have so many more to share but alas, I think you’ve had enough. For me, I’ll never have enough of Cuba. Lastly, thank you to every single person in this post for trusting me to capture your spirit.