For spring break this year, I took a trip with some of my classmates to Cuba. It was like someone just pressed pause somewhere in the 1950s. From the old cars to the architecture, Havana is a vibrant place seemingly untouched from the contamination of western culture. Because wifi is not so easily accessible (relegated to wifi parks or bougie hotels), you are forced to be present in the moment.
I could talk about my experience all day which was mixed with medical missions/volunteering, exploring late night salsa clubs with new friends, and gifting people with portraits and prints on the street (check those out here), BUT, I am just going to let the photos speak for themselves. Hopefully, when you reach the end, you book a flight to Cuba to experience it for yourself. (If you have any questions about details, lodging, etc, just comment or send me a message.
Also, I added some of my favorite street shots to my online print shop, so check that out too!
Nothing like a C
And I don't even like coffee.
The Malecón is the name of the long stretch of road and seawall in Havana pictured below. People hang out and enjoy the sun despite the waves that constantly crash over the wall.
Any moment I had free, I spent roaming the streets trying to capture street scenes on both my digital and film camera (those will be shared way later whenever my film is done developing). The cars, the buildings, the textures..the visual stimulation was overwhelming.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
― Mark Twain
We worked with First-Hand Aid to provide basic health screenings, medications, basic hygiene supplies and groceries to the communities we visited. We also got a glimpse of the various levels of healthcare that are available to every Cuban by talking with physicians, visiting community clinics, tertiary hospitals, etc. The best part was that each student got to give away a stethoscope to medical students who were training without one. I gave mine to a beautiful girl from South Africa who is pictured below.
I got the chance to do a photoshoot with my girl Maryam Farrakhan, a gorgeous future physician who is currently in medical school in Cuba, and an old classmate of mine from UCLA.
We went into the countryside to the province of Piñar del Rio to visit a tobacco farm where we learned about cigar production and tasted some Cuban cigars dipped in fresh, homemade honey. (No, I didn't inhale because I'm trying to keep my lungs as pristine as possible.) Then we ate a delicious home-cooked meal and listened to some talented musicians sing. That night was hands down one of my favorite travel memories to date. Somehow, we broke out singing Lauryn Hill, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston acapella. And I got a mini guitar lesson. It was a beautiful mess fueled by Cuba libre's. The following day, we rode on horseback through the countryside to see a coffee farm and learn about a special rum that is only made in that specific area.
Tourist Os in full effect.
Lord willing, I will be back to explore more of this beautiful country. Hopefully, I am also fluent again in Spanish :)