Since 1999 I have been working on a photographic project documenting the daily life and changes of Cuba. As a Spaniard, I benefited from the unique bonds both countries have shared for many years. I discovered the warm hearts of Cubans during on one of my early trips, when the island was still struggling with the end of the ¨special period ¨ after the soviets left. As a curious young photographer I drove across the island, reaching far away places like the Guanacabibes Peninsula. Not always shooting, sometimes I was just closely absorbing the culture and their friendship. A bodega called my attention. A woman with a gracefully arranged head wrap was giving out loaves of bread upon checking ration cards at the window. Without a ration card, and looking at bread that could not be bought, I stood there, remembering some of the stories my grandmother Regla had shared with us about the Spanish Civil war. With no words exchanged, she extended her arm and handed me a loaf of bread.
Cuba has given me wonderful moments of joy and self-reflection. My work as a National Geographic Expert on multiple expeditions has allowed me to perceive the big and small changes this country has gone through. Last January, I published an article on the National Geographic Blog called Memories intertwined: Revisiting David Alan Harvey´s Trinidad (Cuba), parts of which I am highlighting at the end of this post.
What the future will bring to Cuba is uncertain. The possibilities are many. For those who will rush to discover Cuba in the coming weeks, months or years. For those who may venture to Cuba for business in the coming weeks, months or years. Remember, Cuba is a jewel, as much for its architecture, its music and its culture, as for its people, its folklore and its history. There is a story behind every smile and wrinkle you will find. Dig in and the most novelesque misfortunes may arise. Dig-in and contagious sheer happiness may arise.
Time will tell what the US-Cuba policy will grant both sides. What Cuba has granted me is an immersion into a field of dream-pursuits that has influenced my understanding of photography, story telling and life.