Nearly three years ago, I decided I had to go to Cuba.
Nothing new happened politically or economically in the country; there was no big event that pushed me to make this decision. It was just an idea I woke up with that turned into a strong desire. I do this sometimes- I have an idea for something and suddenly I am obsessed and I have to make it happen. Visiting Cuba was my new goal.
No one goes there, it's not safe, it's illegal, you can't fly there, you can't spend US money. What's the point? I would defend my decision with those buzz phrases everyone uses now. "I want to see it before it changes, just like it was back in the 50's during the Revolution. I want to go before we start building hotels and chains everywhere."
Fast forward to March 2016 and I finally made it happen alongside two of my filmmaker friends, Justin and Annie. We had convinced a non-profit to handle all of our visa paperwork and take us with them if we payed for our own trip and documented the water purification work they were doing down there. That was an easy agreement- I was willing to do anything to get down there. But this allowed us to bring camera gear into the country without anyone questioning us or stealing it. Score.
Lucky for us, the scheduled trip aligned perfectly with a monumental week in Cuba's history. President Obama would be flying to Cuba with his family, the first sitting president to do so since Coolidge in 1928, and would address the Cuban nation. The Tampa Bay Rays team joined along for a big game against the Cuba Nationals. We went out with a bang our last night- a free Rolling Stones show with one million other Cubans all in one park.
This video captures the faces of people we encountered, the streets we walked, the colors and textures we soaked in and the energy we experienced in Cuba. The economy may change dramatically in the next few years, it may not. But the people won't change. They will always embody an infectious passion for life and other people.
Video by Wilder Media