25 de Noviembre
After my forced departure from Cuba on July 4, 2006, and becoming persona non grata, I never imagined that I would ever go back. Life there was over for me like for many people before and after me. For many years I greatly missed the island and its people, our family, and my farmer friends.
One morning in 2015, my life companion Sissy told me: ”I dreamt that you can return to Cuba!” She added: ”Let me see if it is true. I’m going to double-check with the Cuban consulate.” She returned joyful, asserting that her dream was true. The female consul had confirmed that I was welcomed back to the island. I digested the news for over a year. I kept asking myself how could it be possible that my name had been erased from the black list? Why?
Exactly ten years and ten days after my departure, on July 14, 2016, I timidly returned with some trusted friends. Linda Kay, Juan, Willard and I explored again my beloved Havana for a week before going to the countryside to embrace my friends Fidel, Miguel and their families.
What we all found quite surprising was that not much had changed. However, I was ten years older; my photographic vision had evolved.
Upon returning home to New York, I was wondering if and when I would return to the island, but I had no clear answer.
When I woke up on November 25, 2016, I found a text message from Sissy: ”My love, Fidel has passed away! Go to Cuba.” Her advice left me no choice: it was an order! I knew I had to go.
The choice of the title 25 de Noviembre came by chance when I found out that on the same date, sixty years earlier, Fidel Castro had left from Tuxpan, Veracruz, Mexico on a yacht called Granma with eighty-one young men to start the revolution.
Ultimately this book is a poem. It’s a requiem for Cuba at the moment of the historic leader’s passing, a sober eulogy for all the departed Cuban souls, an act of resistance and a song of encouragement for the many courageous Cubans facing life as best they can. EB
Photographs by Ernesto Bazan.
Text by Ernesto Bazan and Sarah Gordon.
10″ W x 10.5″ H x 1.5″ D.
234 pages, with gatefolds.