On Monday, I was awarded the AIPP honors of, Master of Photography for my wedding & travel work over the last 4 years.. and with these four images, (scroll down), i also won the 2012 AIPP Australian Travel Photographer of the Year.. (woohoo) – a BIG gala dinner in Melbourne.. so yes, let’s just say, we had a BIG night, & we can leave it at that..
we were sitting at a rickety table in the dirt, opposite a cuban man about our age i guess.. in the Vanalés Valley, Cuba.. it was hot, like 37 degrees C, & we (just the two of us), were on a horse riding tour around some volcanic caves & tobacco farms.. the countryside was absolutely stunning..
our guide had stopped us for a rest.. he immediately fell asleep in a hammock nearby while we were to have a chat to this local dude about rolling cigars the traditional cuban way.. the only english word he knew was ‘cigar’, & we’d left our spanish phrase book in the car..
our new friend was talking a lot & we had no idea what he was saying, but could see that he was rolling a cigar.. there was a lot of smiling & nodding from our side of the table.. when he was done, he calmly reached under the table & produced a tied bundle of 40 hand-rolled cigars.. unlabelled, unmarked, unpackaged, fat gangster cigars.. & he motioned for us to buy them (for about $AUD90)..
we’d been warned at the airport on arrival that buying unregistered street cigars was a really bad idea.. and as i was pretty sure that the spanish word for ‘no’ is… ’no’.. i politely smiled & then said ‘no’ (in my bestest ever spanish accent).. our friend simply re-offered the cigars to us.. so, i tried to politely demonstrate using ‘charade’ style actions that we couldn’t take them with us due to Australia’s strict quarantine laws.. still, our friend offered them again communicating (i think), that he knows for a fact that “Australia is fine” & that everyone that comes through here buys his cigars *paraphrasing charades actions here* ..
we all then just sat there, in silence at the rickety table, staring blankly at each other.. & between us, was a very thick invisible brick language wall… and 40 cuban cigars..
the amazing thing is, that although neither of us could understand a word the other was saying, we all knew exactly what was being said.. “buy these cigars”.. “no”.. [repeat].. it was probably the single most socially uncomfortable & awkward 11 minutes i’ve ever experienced..
Alyda & I were so far out of our comfort zones, we couldn’t even see them any more – comfort zone was gone… lost…. and it felt amazing!
this is why we love to travel :)