When I was in Cuba years ago I was wandering through run down Havana Vieja with my interpreter. I had been photographing examples of crumbling architectrual wonders in awe of the families that live in them. I think I started to believe all of Havana was filled with buildings barely hodling onto the beauty and dignity of a time past.
So I was talking to my interpreter about what was being done to preserve the beauty in all these buildings. She mentioned that funds were limited but there were buildings being renovated through out town and restored to their former glory. Since Havana was designated a UNESCO world heritage site there was considerable work being done to restore rather than replace these buildings. When I asked her if there were any we could see she directed me to a couple that were easily accesible by toursits...but it was plenty hard to get the images I wanted with loads of tourists walking through them (picky picky photographer that I am).
I was less brave as a photographer during that phase of my career. I was self concious when I took images and sprawling on the floor of a building while fellow tourists stepped over me was an absolute no no to me. Nowadays I couldn't care less...I'll crouch, sprawl, climb, splay etc...whatever it takes to get the shot...who cares if my big bum is in some poor souls face...the picture will always be worth it.
But despite my self conciousness I really really really wanted to capture the buildings glamour from an era gone by. When I asked my interpreter if there were any buildings with less traffic she suggested the we go see if we could get access to a buidling then being renovated in Habana Centrale, the Ministerio de Justicia Palacio de los Matrimonios. A building that was originally a casino, the Palacio de los Matrimonios is a building used as a location for weddings.
At the time we went there the building was under renovation and not accesible. There were a few guards on the site and they politely told us access was not permitted. I remember thinking to myself...hey lady...you are probably never going to have the opportunity to see the inside of this building ever again in your life...what would it hurt to offer an "incentive" to the guards to let us in (yes...I am admitting to bribing the guards....a photographer girl has gotta do what a photographer girl gotta do). So a few dollars later we had 10 minutes to sneak into the building and into the various rooms that were completed and take some shots. I wish I had more time...the building was just breathtaking.
I loved seeing Havana restored to her former beauty....but I have to be honest and say...I am kind of partial to the crumbling, fortified, aged beauty of the older part of Havana...there is something about a building that is just staying up by sheer will that seems more beautiful to me.