This is a very special and rather ‘non-traditional’ image to begin presenting my visual and rather ‘non-traditional’ journey through the compelling streets of Cuba. As my fellow travelers, family and close friends are aware, the sudden passing of my brother and soulmate occurred about a third of the way through +The Giving Lens’s first workshop to Cuba. I could not have made it through the journey without the kindness of each and every member of our #TGLCuba team. My gratitude for your support and continued friendship is immense.
As was his way, my brother told me to 'get on that plane, take lots of pictures’ and (of course) bring me back a Cuban cigar'. Chuck was always pushing me to do what was in my heart, encouraging me to get everything out of this life while the getting was good. I took him at his word and got on the plane, not knowing he was leaving this world in a matter of days. When I heard the news from home I was thrown into an emotional roller coaster. Panic nearly set in as I tried everything but was not able to secure an early departure out of Cuba. Faced with the reality that I simply could not return to where my heart ached to be, I fell into a survival mode of my own, compartmentalizing my emotions as I had no choice but to try and honor him by doing what he wanted most for me. I honestly believe the my brother had some hand in making me complete the trip. I took a deep breath (many in fact), sat down on the sidewalks of Havana and Trinidad to observe the streets before me and I began photographing. Before I knew it I was drawn to the four legged animals of the streets and the rooftops. It was here I found the world of ‘The Scrapper’. Captured on my last day on the island and very nearly the last photograph I took, this one dog, this Scrapper stood out amongst the many. Hungry, covered in dirt, ticks and God knows what else, he moved methodically down the streets, sticking his nose in every bag, finding bits and pieces to nibble on before moving on to another pile. Most people might see this as a terrible life of an exhausting, never ending quest to do whatever it takes to survive. I, on the other hand, saw a friendly and seemingly happy dog who liked to walk with the humans passing by, a bounce in his step and tail wagging furiously … always. His spirit remained strong though his circumstances seemed dire. The irony did not escape me and it made me smile. Over the years, my brother’s many efforts in his own struggles to survive led me to describe him to others as a ‘Hell of a Scrapper’. He fought cancer with dignity and a great spirit. We had more years and memories than predicted because of this. Cancer finally figured him out and took him from us, but not without one Hell of a fight. Those us us left behind remain her to honor him, his life, his love and his strengths. Whatever images come from my Cuban Journey are dedicated to my brother’s life … the life of ‘The Scrapper.’
Pat Corlin Photography
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More images of Cuba: http://www.patcorlinphotography.com/Galleries/Travel/Travel-Cuba/
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