Cuba. Whoa. The last I heard, Americans still weren’t really allowed in and as far as I knew, you had to plan your trip well in advance as a part of a tour group or educational institute. I was living in the town of Tulum, Mexico, teaching yoga at a health and wellness resort, very separated from any sort of media outlet, and had no idea the trade embargo was being lifted. My friend Laura, who has become a pretty consistent travel buddy, messaged me in January to see where I was and where I would be the second week of February. She had time off work and was ready to go! I had been invited by a friend in Mexico City to stay with her for a while, so I would be taking a break from Tulum at the beginning of February, but didn’t have any plans after that. Then Laura broke the news that Americans were sort of being let into Cuba now. I knew of a few popular photography tours that always go to Cuba for the month of February, so that seemed to be our best option (at this point I am still assuming we have to be with an organized tour). One or two What’s App messages, a little bit of research about border crossing and loopholes in the system and we decided where our next destination was. We quickly ditched the idea of a travel company, having discovered that Americans can also be let in when going for “photojournalistic purposes.” How convenient that I am a photographer and Laura is a writer! We would be sending ourselves on assignment and could easily fly from Mexico City direct to Havana.
Laura is currently writing articles about our entry process (when we got stopped six times before being allowed in the country), the experiences we had along the way (including a highway breakdown in a 1954 Chevy taxi and hitchhiking across the country), as well as a few tips and suggestions for Cuba travel. She will do all of them much more justice with her writing than I would able to, so I’m going to leave that to her and leave you with my contribution to our “assignment” – a photo gallery.