Friday, October 27, 2017

Eyeing the streets of Havana

Viñales, which lies in a dramatic valley full of farmland for tobacco, fruits, and vegetables.
by Pierre Crosby

I traveled to Cuba ten days after Hurricane Irma had flooded the streets of Havana’s famous Malecón waterfront roadway. It was my first time in the country, on a trip planned hastily as I feared stricter travel bans under President Trump’s proposed sanctions.

The streets were full of life as people socialized outside their homes, next to drying mattresses and clothes.

On the streets of Havana I found hard-working, family-oriented, optimistic, and gleeful people. I was welcomed into homes, quizzed on Cuban baseball players, and discussed politics with people on almost every street corner.
In Havana, I spent most of my time walking the area called Centro Habana. It is a working-class and lively neighborhood just west of the Old Town. Here the streets are dirtier but filled with energy and commotion. Children play games on the sidewalks, men smoke cigars and repair their cars and women chat outside their homes.

In addition to Havana I traveled west into the beautiful countryside, to a scenic town called Viñales. It lies in a dramatic valley full of farmland for tobacco, fruits and vegetables. While only about ninety miles south of Miami, Viñales felt thousands of miles away from modern civilization and the problems of the world. Life there is slow, simple, and peaceful. It is a stark contrast to the bustling streets of Havana, and together, both places gave me a genuine feel and appreciation of Cuban life.
Cuba truly is an enchanting destination for tourists; with abundant antique American cars, crumbling art deco architecture, and nostalgic memories of Hemingway and lavish parties in the 50s. Most Cubans have never left the country, but willingly share stories of their relatives fortunate enough to live in the U.S.  There is a lack of internet, television, foreign products, and clean water, which reflects their troubled political history and government oppression.

My passion for film photography emerged while growing up in New York City. I wanted to document the unique diversity and pulsing energy in Cuba with this classic medium. It is my hope that these photos will perhaps inspire you to travel there in the near future.