Rad A. Drew Photography

Continental Divide at Dawn

Continental Divide at Dawn
Continental Divide at Dawn

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Old Man and the Sea

Old Fisherman, Cojimar Marina
Fuji X-E2
© Rad A. Drew
One of my favorite locations for experiencing Cuba is a little marina near the sea-side village of Cojimar. It's the place where Ernest Helmingway moored his boat, the Pilar, and the people who worked at this marina back in his day were the inspiration for his great novel, The Old Man and The Sea

In that novel, Hemingway wrote of the hardships of the life of the fishermen there, of the poverty, and of the endless hunt for the big fish that allowed men to eek out an existence to support their families.

Today, I don't believe it is much different. The fisherman are still very poor. The boats look as though they barely float, and the fisherman use the same methods that were used by the Old Man in Hemingway's novel. The fight to bring in a big fish is much the same.

When we arrived at the marina on the morning of our most recent visit, everyone was buzzing with the news: a boat crewed by two old fisherman had just returned with two several hundred pound sharks. We were there in time to witness the cleaning and butchering for market.


Old Fisherman Cleans his Catch, Cojimar Marina
iPhone 7 Plus
© Rad A. Drew
Watching the process I was struck by this way of life and how it represents just one of the many facets of the multiple cultures that are Cuba.

Only hours earlier, our photography group had been in the presence of some of the most beautiful, graceful creatures on earth: the young dancers from the Cuban National Ballet. 



Dancer at the Mansion, Cuban National Ballet
Fuji X-E2
© Rad A. Drew
Now, we watched an old fisherman, long, lean, and muscular from his trade, bronzed and leathered by the sun, as he cleaned his catch. It was a bloody process and a necessary one and he performed it with an elegance and grace that rivaled that of the Dancers we'd photographed earlier in the day. The old fisherman had no sharpening rod for his knife, so, as he butchered the giant fish that he'd caught at sea, he made do by occasionally running the blade of one knife along the blade of another to hone the edge, the metallic scritch-scratch,  scritch-scratch of steel on steel punctuating his gruesome task.

I was struck by both the polarities of these two worlds – the dancers and the fishermen – and their similarities, but mostly how both experiences are so much a part of what is so exactly, so precisely, Cuba today.

I'll be returning to Cuba next week for another adventure, this time in collaboration with tremendous Cuban Photographer, Ramses Batista. We'll photograph dancers in Havana, models in Ramses' studio, and then venture to the farming regions surrounding Vinales where we'll experience farm life and rural living.

For those interested in visiting Cuba, I'll be leading another Photography Tour (it'll be my 11th since 2013) from March 4-12, 2018. We'll photograph dancers from the Cuban National Ballet, shoot in the streets of Havana and Trinidad, and visit marinas and villages in rural areas outside of these two cities. If you'd like to be on the early notification list for this trip once I get it posted, you can email here. I like to work with small groups, so the tour is limited to 6 participants.