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Sin Embargo: Cuba!

January 29, 2010

My round-the-world extravaganza begins with Havana.  Partly because of Buena Vista Social Club, partly because of Robert Polidori, and partly because I’m Canadian and I can.

I know when I hit Havana, I will immediately wish that I had taken one of those photography courses that I am constantly talking about taking.  While the idea of living in decaying grandeur doesn’t feel so romantic, photographing it definitely does.  I imagine the fading  elegance to bring with it the memory of another time, at once familiar and foreign.  But beyond the crumbling, there seems to be a particular kind of vibrancy; an urgency to delight in one’s senses.

Of course, the beauty of decay brings with it many complexities.  In A Cup of Cuban Coffee, Stephen Benz wrote of the capital city:

“Over all hung the thick scent of dust and crumbling mortar- the abandoned stage-set smells that contributed to the wistful, voluptuous atmosphere pervasive in the city.”

Which brings to mind the over-ripe beauty Frida Kahlo’s 1951 Still Life with Parrot.

No es fácil, acere*

Welcome to a week of all things Cuban!

* a Cuban expression meaning “it’s not easy/life is hard, mate”

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