Monochrome Cuba / by Adam Travis

This March break, I had the luck to travel down to Cuba with Brianna for a week away from winter and to reacquaint myself with above-zero temperatures. Initially, I wanted to fully 'unplug' and shoot film all week, but in the end, went with the cheaper option. However I still wanted to put together a small album that represented the week and incorporated some of my favourite shots from the street and countryside. 

Seeing as it was March break, the airport was absolutely packed and hectic - as to be expected. Outside, modern Chinese tour buses filled the parking lot alongside vintage American cars and trucks. After a mis-stamped visa and security-line-turned-mosh-pit, we grabbed some beer for the bus ride out to Guardalavaca. 

After getting to the resort and unpacking, we headed to the beach to catch the sunset. Used to sunsets obscured by trees, buildings and hills, seeing the sun sink behind the hazy mountains to the West was stunning.

The nightly entertainment was just that. While the band playing dad-rock covers was talented, the star of the show was undoubtedly the guy sporting an ‘East Coast Lifestyle’ t-shirt who burst onstage to join the band in dancing.

Resort staff watch the show unfold from the balcony. Convenient as they may be, I can’t imagine these rooms being very peaceful.

A rattling train ride through the Cuban countryside kicked off a day of touring around the province. As we rolled through the countryside, chickens ran past blacked-out Ladas, which also shared the streets with horse-drawn-buggies and cyclists. Rural areas of the country are marked by basic agriculture.

A man stands in front of crops at the end of the rail line.

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Next stop was Holguin city. Climbing the 400+ steps to the top of the historic Hill of the Cross was rewarded with a stunning view in all directions.

Flowering vines creep down through the open roof of one of Holguin’s snack bars.

A couple walks through a shopping district just off the main square in Holguin.

A rarity in Canada, this payphone still got some use in central Holguin.

From Holguin, we drove north to Gibara – a town of 72,000 in the south of Cuba. Once a bustling trade point, the loss of its rail connection in the 50’s has left the city seeming stranded in time. Old architecture (some renovated, some in need) dominates the landscape. One renovated structure is the Ordoño hotel: a former private residence transformed into a 27-room hotel.

Men talk outside the Ordoño hotel in Gibara.

A man looks out from the roof of the Ordoño. 

Wherever you go, kids are still kids.

And dogs are largely still dogs.

Standing on the rocks overlooking Gibara Bay, a man casts a fishing line into the breaking surf. Gibara has felt the brunt of the sea more than once, taking damage from both hurricanes Ike and Sandy. 

A boy walking along the beach in Guardalavaca. The rest of the week was spent enjoying the sun before heading back to a cold (-30 on arrival, with windchill) and snowy Canada.

Of course, no beach day(s) would be complete without a beach buddy.