Maria and Raul – Paso Marti, Centro Habana, Cuba
My assistant Orlando called me at my hotel and said he wanted me to meet this couple who lived opposite El Capitolio, or National Capitol Building in Havana, Cuba. It was a very hot afternoon as we walked the short distance to their apartment on the Paso Marti. Their apartment was on the forth floor and when we arrived the front door was open. Sitting in a rocking chair was Raul. The apartment is quite small and the heat is overbearing I think it must be about forty degrees in here. Looking around this small dark room I now see Maria asleep on the bed. Her head is at the bottom and she is in the fetal position. Their whole life is wrapped up in this room and for most of their married life they have lived here. I select my position to take my photograph and Orlando and I move a table out of the way to make room for me to take the picture. The light is very low and Orlando uses a reflector to illuminate Raul. We also have to wedge something under Raul’s chair to stop its movement for the six second exposure.
There is a sense of tenderness and a bond between the pair and both seem comfortable together. Raul is blind and Maria looks after all his needs but in some way Raul is now Maria’s guardian, protecting her vulnerability as she sleeps. The couple were married in 1959, the year of the Revolution and in that time they have witnessed the many challenges that have faced the country. The quietness of the room was sporadically broken by the hum of a 1950 Gibson Refrigerator in the corner. Despite the realities of life there is a dignity, spirit and love displayed between them. In December 2012 after a short illness Raul passed away and Maria died about six months later.