Photography by Sally and Mike Harris
Cuba has become a favorite destination for us. After visiting Havana, illegally, about 10 years ago, Mike and I returned this year, legally. In January we spent one week traveling through central Cuba with a photographer/guide and a driver under the category of “Supporting the Cuban People.” We stayed and ate in “Casa Particulares,” private homes similar to B&Bs that our guide arranged ahead of time. We returned to Cuba to spend a week with a group of photographers in March when the Corona Virus was barely a headline. That week, the world changed back in the United States and we watched it all unfold on our phone screens each morning before heading out to photograph.What struck us on both visits is the warmth and resilience of the Cuban people. These are not good times for them. Tourism was already waning due to new changes in group-travel restrictions and the embargo makes it difficult for Cubans to find even the most basic needs like soap. And yet despite their hardships from embargos, hurricanes and politics – the Cuban spirit emerges, joyful and hopeful. Wherever we went we were greeted warmly by all ages – with a hug, a hearty handshake or a peck on the cheek. As always, we wanted to experience Cuban life, so we went to a baseball game, boxing practice, a fishing village and local outdoor markets. We were invited inside homes and schools, we sat down and watched people playing dominoes or chess in the street. Our last night in Camaguey, we were guests at a home where we were treated like royalty – a combo of Cuban musicians serenaded us as we feasted on homemade Cuban delicacies and toasted our hosts for showing us the true meaning of hospitality.