Cuba – Take 2


Falling in love with Cuba so quickly came as a sweet surprise. I didn’t expect I was going to relish my first visit there back in April and that a part of me longs to stay.

If you have read my post about the Cuban skate community in Havana, you would remember that they don’t have some of the privileges we enjoy. They don’t have a skate shop to buy what they want or what they need. They solely rely on donors from around the world. Imagine that. I made a vow to help them in my own little ways the next time I come back.

One good thing that resulted from my first trip was finding out about a few organizations that support the skateboarding community there, Cuba Skate, Amigo Skate Cuba and Toda Fuerza.  After connecting with Amigo Skate Cuba online, I learned they will be hosting a photography exhibition as part of the Go Skateboarding Day’s celebrations.  I was lucky to be invited as one of the photographers/exhibitioners. What could be a better excuse for me to go back to Cuba for a second time? It was perfect! After all, five days of exploring this beautiful country and connecting with its wonderful people was not enough.

Infront of part of the photo exhibition held at Fabrica de Arte Cubano.

When I got back to Vancouver, I started scouting around for skateboards and other goods that I could bring. I was determined to help especially after learning about the difficulties they face on top of being dependent on donations. Meeting more skateboarders is also on my agenda.

Antisocial Skate Shop was a big part of the donation, making sure I was able to reach my goal of bringing 10 complete boards.

June came. It was time for me to hop on the plane once again and bring some good news. Thanks to the incredible support of my Vancouver skate community, I was able to bring 10 complete decks.

The Go Skateboarding Day held in Havana was loaded with fun. I attended all the events such as the parade, tattoo exhibition, and the photo show where one of my photos was featured. In my heart, I know what made me want to be a part of all this was to meet girl skaters there and find ways to help and support them. And I did.

On this same trip the girls and I organized a gathering in Paseo Prado, There, we exchanged stories and talked about the female skateboarding scene. Their faces beamed with pride and happiness when each of them got Skate Witches Zines and Dame Skate zines. I felt so inspired to have witnessed that. I encouraged them to continue pushing themselves and take care of their own crews.

Las chicas de prado with their zines

Feeling that was not enough, I partnered with Jenny Gilley, a girl I met online who happens to be going back and forth to Cuba to help the skateboarding community. We initially wanted to sponsor a contest. Unfortunately, the contest got canceled due to some complications.

Still, Jenny and I managed to organize a last-minute Skate Jam for the girls. It was held at the DIY spot at Ciudad Libertad. The event was a blast. Laughter filled the place. I was happy to see the girls pushing themselves even if they felt intimidated. Some of them took home well-deserved prizes. The event would not be able to push through without Pati’s energy, enthusiasm, and resourcefulness. Camaraderie – girls supporting each other – is what skateboarding is all about.

 

If you ask me whether I am thinking about going back to Cuba again, the answer is yes! I can’t wait to enjoy the Cuban sun and hit the skate parks with my homies.  Seriously, what’s not to love? Let me show you some photos plus a video from my second trip.

This was not my last visit to Cuba, I had the opportunity to go for the third time, this visit was cut short due to Hurricane Irma. The category five hurricane, one of the fiercest Atlantic storms in a century, brought blinding rain and catastrophic winds that left Cuba battered. The country is now in a period of darkness and rebuilding.

After three trips to Cuba, I have developed deep connections with the community and I want to go back for the 4th time and help in clean up and rehabilitation efforts. I plan to give bring basic necessities such as medicine, clothes, cleaning supplies and the always needed skate goods.  Please help me with my mission. I have set up a GoFundMe page here. Your support would be highly appreciated.

What keeps me going right now are my fond memories and wonderful experiences of Cuba and I hope they inspire you to help with this mission.

Thanks for reading my blog.

 

Enamorarme de Cuba fue inevitable y me llegó de sorpresa. Nunca me imaginé que mi primera visita a este país cambiaría mi vida.

Si leíste mi blog sobre mi primera visita recordarás que en Cuba no existen recursos para los patinadores como en otras partes del mundo, no skate shops la gente que patina sobrevive con las donaciones que llegan de otros países. 

Durante mi primera visita aprendí sobre varias organizaciones que ayudan a la comunidad patinadora de Cuba: Cuba Skate, Amigo Skate Cuba y Toda Fuerza.

Después de conectar con Amigo Skate Cuba en Instagram y al compartir mis fotos de mi primer viaje, fui invitada a participar como expositora en una exhibición fotográfica en la Fábrica de Arte durante las celebraciones de Go Skate Day.  Que mejor excusa para regresar. 

Decidí regresar a Cuba en Junio y me puse a recolectar donaciones en Vancouver, gracias al apoyo de la comunidad pude llevar 10 tablas completas. Esto no hubiese sido posible sin el apoyo de Antisocial Skate Shop. 

El día de Go Skate Day en la Habana estuvo super divertido, durante este mismo viaje las chicas y yo organizamos una reunión en Paseo Prado, pero esto no fue suficiente, durante mi viaje conocí a Jenny Gilley, nos asociamos y organizamos un evento de último momento para las chicas, el evento fué un éxito y me alegró ver a las chicas dándolo todo, y apoyándose las unas a las otras.

Si me preguntas si estoy pensando en volver a Cuba nuevamente, la respuesta es sí. No puedo esperar para disfrutar del sol cubano y patinar con mis amigos. Déjame mostrarte algunas fotos y un video de mi segundo viaje para que entiendas un poco porque me encanta Cuba. 

Además ésta no fue mi última visita a Cuba, tuve la oportunidad de ir por tercera vez, esta visita fue interrumpida por el huracán Irma. El huracán categoría cinco, una de las tormentas atlánticas más feroces en un siglo, trajo lluvias cegadoras y vientos catastróficos que dejaron a Cuba destrozada. El país ahora se encuentra en un período de oscuridad y reconstrucción.

Después de tres viajes a Cuba, he desarrollado conexiones profundas con la comunidad y quiero volver por cuarta vez y ayudar en los esfuerzos de limpieza y rehabilitación. Planeo darles las necesidades básicas tales como medicinas, ropa, limpieza y las siempre necesarias mercaderías de skate. Por favor, ayúdame con mi misión. He creado una página de GoFundMe aquí. Tu apoyo se aprecia ampliamente.

Lo que me mantiene firme en este momento son mis gratos recuerdos y experiencias maravillosas de Cuba y espero que te inspiren a ayudar con esta misión.

Gracias por leer mi blog.




                        

About lapir0

Norma Ibarra is a photographer and social media marketer. She has developed and executed successful digital strategies and campaigns for non-profits and Tourism Organizations.

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