For those who are constantly asking me about the subculture of surfing in Cuba, here is a project worth supporting. The Cuba Unknown is a travel and surf photography book about a cross-country journey through Cuba, in search of waves and understanding. If you choose to order this book on Kickstarter now, you can receive it US delivery by Christmas 2017. Here’s the story…
A creative surf crew from Venice, California (original buddies from Maine) decided to follow some die-hard surfers around the country. Cuban surf leaders Frank Gonzalez and female Yaya Guerrero hold the authors hand through the unique terrain of embracing the sport in the island nation. Having learned that surfing was once illegal in Cuba, the author describes the renegade riders with pure awe. “These surfers took the sport into their own hands, passionately shaping surfboards out of refrigerator doors, ceiling tiles and whatever else they could find. They paddled out to score a few moments of freedom” reflects the writer. “They inspired us.”
The book is told in journal fashion, with entries written by a curious visitor who’s truly engaged at the most raw level — living, eating, sleeping, and playing with these fearless Cubans. It’s funny because the new US Policy laws would probably prohibit traveling through Cuba this way now, which was previously filed under “Individual” People-to-People travel. Ironically, this is the most truthful way to experience Cuba, as opposed to the larger rigid bus tours. The narrative of this book is what I truly consider “engaging with the Cuban people”. We need more of these build-bridging projects, not less.
On another note, reading this book offers a bit of tips & tricks for traveling cross-country, namely hand signals on how to hail a local Almendron vehicle on the side of the road.
The yearlong adventure coincidentally documented 2016, the actual year Cuban millennials experienced hope through the lens of warmed relations with the US (thank you, Obama). In addition to visual breadcrumbs of make-shift surfboards, roadtrip snapshots, and beat up skateboards, you’ll also see photos of the infamous Rolling Stones concert, or John Kerry’s friendly face on a static 60’s Russian TV set emanating through the walls of a Cuban countryside home. It was an overall year of high emotions, and this project recorded it all through the lens of the surfers.
Take a look at the video for the full story, and drop your money in this bucket. It’s a project made from the heart, and isn’t that all we’re looking for? A Cuba project with soul and good intentions? Purchasing the book and supporting the project at any level helps the team finish their feature film, Havana Libre, which follows the effort to legitimize surfing in Cuba.
Plus it’s a darling Christmas gift — be it for yourself or a friend. And to all the Cuban surfers, we urge you to “keep on keeping on”. The world is watching, and your hobby will soon be recognized as a professional sport. We’re rooting for you.