I met Wesleyann about four years ago at a photography workshop in Los Angeles & we became friends right away. I worked for her for a few destination weddings, & she’s always been a source of inspiration personally & professionally. She & Kyle came to New Orleans a few months ago, & the four of us decided we needed to all take a trip together ASAP. We weren’t sure where we wanted to go, so the four of us each wrote down an idea on scraps of paper & decided to draw out of a hat. I wrote Joshua Tree, Wesleyann wrote Big Sur, Thad wrote Chicago, & Kyle wrote Key West. Chicago was drawn & we were all super excited. We only had about a four day window that we were all off for, so Chicago seemed like a great short trip to take together. After a little research, we realized that the Chicago trip was going to be way too expensive for a short four day trip, & Wesleyann mentioned finding cheap flights to Cuba.
I’m not sure if I had ever really thought of traveling to Cuba before. Honestly, I really didn’t know much about it, but I got a little hesitant after reading more about their travel ban and visa requirements. We did our research, & decided that even though it may be a little challenging, we needed to explore this place.
Fast forward about two months later, & we met Kyle and Wesleyann at the airport to fly to Cuba. We all joked about how our flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Havana was pretty much a completely empty flight. There were about 15 seats filled on a 150 passenger airplane which was a little questionable for me. The travel ban was lifted for Americans to travel to Cuba, but “tourist” travel is still prohibited so we had to comply with one of the 12 reasons for travel. Since our Airbnb host lived there, he agreed to give us a tour so we could use “education” as our reason. I’m not sure that any of us realized then just how much learning we were setting out to do in the next few days.
We got a taxi & headed to our temporary home in Havana, driving past vintage cars & colorful buildings on the way. We finally spotted our blue & yellow building & climbed the stairs to the our place with our host, Alberto, who would show us around for the next few days. We met Lisis, his girlfriend next, who got us guava juice and fruits to snack on before starting our tour. We explored the city with them and even ended up at a house party / art show by the end of the night sipping on mojitos & authentic Cuban daiquiris. We spent the next morning & afternoon getting lost in the city & exploring Old Havana (which we wish we had spent more time in) learning from Alberto & Lisis.
The culture there was more incredible than I could have ever imagined. Alberto told us about “Cuban time” & the slower paced lifestyle of the people there. It’s safe to say that our education visa didn’t go to waste. Between the drinks, cigars, colors, & culture, we’ve learned so much from this place. Here are a few of our favorite images from the trip: