Early at the Gym + Old Havana

Went to the gym early this morning. At 06:00 am, there were four of us patiently waiting for the janitor to open the entrance’s sliding doors. By the time I was done with my cardio warmup on the treadmill, five or six more people had arrived. I’m guessing here, but I’d say most of us early birds are a few years above fifty, but by the time I’d completed my workout at 07:01 am, a half dozen “old timers” had also arrived. For them, the gym is as much a social venue as a place that helps them get or stay fit. While I go through my program with rigorous focus and a podcast playing through my Airpods, the retirees take it nice and easy, spending plenty of time chatting with each other in between gym machines and stretching exercises.

The above shot is from a rooftop apartment in Havana, Cuba. I don’t remember the circumstances of how I got to this vantage point, but I do remember loving the view. One of the capital’s most famous gyms is located somewhere over to the right in the photo. I don’t know the current state, but last I was there, the workout equipment would easily have qualified for an exhibit at the Smithsonian.

Back to the scene above. There’s something indescribably beautiful and soulful about buildings so old they look like they could be or should be condemned. The dilapidation is surely not as appreciated by those forced to live in them. But for a photographer coming from the diametrically opposite environs – like Västra Hamnen – where every square centimeter is relatively new and shiny, and where there is very little, if any, soul to be seen or felt, places like Havana are nothing less than a visual bonanza. I hope to return one day. In the meantime, I’ve got a collection of images from my two visits here.

Obama till Castro: Let’s be friends!

Igår presenterade Barack Obama resultatet av 18 månaders förhandlingar med Raul Castro och den kubanska regeringen om att normalisera relationerna mellan länderna. Har varit på Kuba ett par gånger och om den nya vänskapen verkligen blir av och embargot mot import av kubanska produkter (främst kaffe, cigarrer, jordbruksprodukter) till USA, kommer det garanterat att påverka landet på ett genomgripande vis. Kuba är redan ett rikt land på många sätt. Inte minst kulturellt.

Om förbindelserna länderna emellan blir genomgripande, hoppas jag att befolkningen kommer att få bättre levnadsvillkor och att mina kubanska vänner i Havanna får möjlighet att förverkliga sina drömmar. Vilket när vi senast sågs var att flytta till USA…