My love affair with Cuba
For many people, Cuba’s image is romantic, voluptuous, mysterious and a little dangerous. When travel restrictions were relaxed, I visited Havana at my first opportunity, on an organized “people to people” tour in November 2015. I took hundreds of photos, but they were a formality. The images of that country lived in my imagination for the past 50 years. I just needed the chance to record them in person so I could share with others. My goal was to find a way to visit Cuba regularly, not as a tourist but as part of an effort that would help build relationships between the US and that country.
I returned on a similar tour in November 2016, where I connected with several travelers from Minnesota Public Radio. Through those relationships, I became involved with the Cuban American Youth Orchestra (www.cayomusic.org), a nonprofit dedicated to providing educational and performance opportunities for student and pre-professional musicians from the US and Cuba through workshops, arts delegations, and cultural exchanges. I now travel regularly to Cuba as part of CAYO’s programming, documenting the concerts, rehearsals, educational seminars and networking that helps them accomplish their mission. I’m thrilled to have achieved my goal, and am proud to be part of this small but powerful effort.
Many people want to travel to Cuba “before it changes.” Havana is now full of Americans. Cruise ships are arriving at the harbor in Old Havana. Hotels are being built at a furious pace. Yes, by all means, visit Cuba – not because it is changing, but because its people and its culture are timeless.