Cuba on the Brink of Change
In the fall of 2014, right before the United States began to ease travel restrictions to Cuba, I was fortunate enough to attend a Cross Cultural Journeys voyage for photographers. On this trip, we visited fellow photographers in Cuba, as well as artists, dancers, museum directors, musicians, architects and city planners. We were also given the opportunity to wander the streets and connect with regular citizens, who graciously invited us into their homes and places of business. The provinces we visited included Santiago, Guantanamo, Baracoa, and Havana. In the region of Baracoa, we traveled to the Toa Duana, a Taino Indian site, where we watched a dance performance in a Kiribi Indian Village. It was interesting to visit so many cultural sites around the country in this period on the brink of change, while many traditions were still being preserved.
While I was in Baracoa, I was fortunate enough to be able to take a boat trip on the Toa River to an island at the mouth of the estuary. Thought it was a bit muddy, from all the rain they had been experiencing, it was clear that the water was much healthier than in the rivers of Florida. There was less pollution and an abundance of birds, and other creatures in this very diverse ecosystem. The Cuban's cannot afford pesticides and fertilizers, so all of their agriculture is organic. There also isn't an overpopulation problem that requires diverting lots of water and disturbing the balance of fresh and salt water.
The purpose of this project was to document and connect with the culture and spirit of the people before the doors are fully opened to the United States and development. Through my work, I attempted to capture their fresh spirit and willingness to connect with me, an outsider looking in with a great desire to understand and an appreciation of the environmental bubble they have been living in, which is partially due to economic and political sanctions.
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