Ceilin’ fan it stirs the air
Cigar smoke does swirl
The fragrance on the pillowcase
And he thinks about the girl
Havana Daydreamin’/Jimmy Buffett
The closest I’ve ever gotten to Cuba is flying over the island coming back from a production in Jamaica. And I’ve stood on the southern most point of Continental United States in Key West and dreamed of traveling to Havana some day.
Growing up in Florida I had a heavy dose of Cuba culture filling my imagination with stories of Castro, communism, the Bay of Pigs invation, the Mariel Boatlift, Hemingway, baseball, Cuban music, and Cuban cigars (which I first smoked on a trip to Moscow). Movies like Buena Vista Social Club, going to college in Miami and many trips to the Ybor City area of Tampa have further added to the puzzle of my limited understanding of Cuba.
As a youth I was confused about a place that people both hated and loved, and that was a place where people had fled, were still fleeing—sometimes on handmade rafts—yet others were highjacking planes to return to Cuba.
Layers and layers of spices and flavors
Are finding their way to my brain
Layers and layers of costumes and players
That make my whole life look insane
Island Fever/ Jimmy Buffett
From the musical Don’t Stop the Carnival
A person I recently met from Cuba said it’s “like New York in the fifties,” and one travel writer called Cuba “tragically beautiful.” I’ve known cameraman Mike “Mac” McAleenan since we first worked on a project over 20 years ago. For the past decade he’s carved a niche as a reality show director of photography.
A very compressed version of his resume includes being a cameraman on a couple of Survivor programs, as well as shooting for the Discovery Channel and NatGeo. His work has taken him from Alaska to Africa and Maine to China—and quite a few places in between.
This past weekend he was in Havana where he’s working on a TV project, and he posted several photos on Facebook that he’s allowed me to post the ones you see here. Direct flights from Orlando to Havana resumed earlier this year for the first time in my lifetime. It’s my goal to get to Havana in 2016.
P.S. A couple of months ago Mac was in Orlando for a few days and helped me grab a few shots with his drone for my short doc on historic Tinker Field. I competed the project and entered it into its first film festival last month. Talented guy that Mac originally from Belleville, Illinois.
Hollywood Insiders Descend on Havana