CUBA _ The Land Of Light
An in depth look at my amazing time in the land of light.
The idea of going to Cuba came about when me and my good friend Ohaji decided we needed to get away after a busy period. Having travelled to various places together before, we wanted to visit somewhere new and unexplored, we have some contacts in Cuba who were happy to have us stay for a small fee, we went ahead and booked our holiday for September of 2014. It was spontaneous.
The image of the beach reflects one of many good days we had spent, a week into our holiday we were recommended to visit one of the few beaches, which was an experience; live music, food being served, really nice people around, amazing light and clean air. I fell in love with the different colours in the water, at the time I took the image it started raining, but that didn’t get in the way of anyone from having fun.
Blind, acting and vocal coach.
This is a portrait of lady who is an acting and vocal coach, one of the top in the Cuba.
Our contact who we were staying with, mentioned someone they would like me and my friend to meet, a phone call was made and on the other end this lady who we would eventually be introduced to, began describing me, she said “Oh your friend the dark guy, with the beard who is a photographer, he’s here.” – “Yes, how did you know about his arrival and who he is?” our friend asked. En route to meet our mutual friend we learned that she was blind, as we arrived and entered the room to be introduced, amongst us and other people already there, “he’s here” she suddenly said and pointed at me “come over”, after examining my face and confirming that I was who she was speaking about over the phone, we sat down, rehearsals were about to start. I was shocked, how did she know who I was, we never met before?
We watched the play being rehearsed, although I didn’t understand the language some parts I understood very clearly, I was able to read the emotions well. The subject who we were now acquainted with had a very strong, penetrating voice. It was evident, there was something about her, very radiant ‘power’ is what I can describe it as.
After the rehearsals we went outside and witnessed what I can only describe as biblical rain, rivers running down the streets and hills, it was crazy! There were kids hanging onto the back of a bus, water skiing barefoot… that was a day of things I have never seen before.
Yunil, from the second day was our man in ‘Havana’ he looked after us and made the trip 10 times better than what it probably would have been otherwise without him. He passed on a lot of advice and knowledge including: where to eat, background information, how to carry yourself, what subjects can and shouldn’t be talked about in public and best clubs to experience live music. Due to him being a guide I definitely think we had an authentic experience, he knew Cuba like the back of his hand and was proud to be able to give his insight to someone outside of that realm.
He is an amazing musician, plays with people who have performed with Tito Puente, has travelled literally around the world to stage his abilities. Additionally, he had done a 12-year apprenticeship in music, which to me was unheard of, Yunil later told me that anybody who says they are a musician has most likely done the same or more amount of time as an apprentice, music over there is serious, not a joke!
I wanted to photograph Yunil so that he could have something to promote himself with, if there was ever a need. Together we agreed to keep things simple, we shot in and around the house where we were staying, which was an old government building, using only my camera and mag flashlight we achieved the results I wanted.
This is Flora, one of the people who looked after us, our trip would not have been as special without her, she made us feel at home. She is wearing a pair of Justin Deakin’s loafers. At first she wasn’t sure if they suited her because they were obviously men’s shoes, but after sometime she changed her mind and wouldn’t actually take them off, she would then go to wear the shoes from the morning.
Justin who is an amazing shoe maker and a New Chieftain – https://visualmarvelry.com/the-new-chieftains/ few days prior to flying out I visited Justin’s shop and mentioned I would be going on holiday, after I found out the love he shares for Cuba he had gifted me with three pairs of shoes to give away, that was amazing.
This gentleman, who I saw when we were in a car driving, I asked to stop so I could get out talk to him, I introduced myself and asked “how are you?”, he instantly opened up and in true Cuban fashion – you meet people and they tell some amazing stories. In his case, he just finished a doctorate in Musicology, in other words the effects of music on the human brain and psyche, he has written books on various different topics in music, psychology and psychotherapy. We talked for a very long time, very interesting, deep and articulate person. I asked if I could take his picture after which he replied “I would be honoured if you take my picture” and adopted his ‘heroic’ pose.
What did you take away with you from Cuba?
Music, energy of the people and the light.
With regards to the light, I think it’s something you have to experience to understand. It is completely different from say London or most cities in Europe, that could be due to the atmosphere, clouds, air pollutions. But everything looks completely different and stands out just the same.
I wanted to mention that this was the only country I have been to where all the different races of people have the same background and ways of doing things, for example here in England you have various diverse cultures and their own way of living, on the other hand in Cuba it doesn’t matter what race or faith you belong to, they share the same experiences, I would say that it brings everyone closer. Another thing I observed was that all different age groups mix together often, we organised a party at our accommodation and you would have a few 17 year olds playing dominoes with 70 year olds, laughing, smoking and talking. Definitely a strong and obvious sense of community with mutual respect for each other.