Tourists go to places to see things and buy souvenirs; travelers go to places to experience life and collect memories.
Words & Photos by Eric Morales
Sean Stillmaker and Kelley Mullarkey, founders of majestic disorder magazine based in London, are travelers to the nth degree whom I adventured with in Cuba during the sweltering summer months of July and August.
In what seemed like an instantaneous stopover during our two week excursion, majestic disorder knocked out a fashion editorial, a look book for Dharma Co. eyewear, multiple social media campaigns and several interviews with local farmers, merchants and artists for their upcoming issue.
Alongside the touring company Fisheye Journeys, we traveled across Cuba from the capital city of Havana, to the southern seaside town of Trinidad and to the remote village of Viñales where we were warmly met with utmost hospitality and an intimate taste of the local flavor.
As direct trade and travel between Cuba and the U.S. just opened in September, this was the last window to experience Cuban authenticity before globalization begins accelerating amongst the country of 11.2 million people.
Always fully committed to exploring and connecting global cultures through their print and digital platforms, majestic disorder thrived with this
Cayo Hueso neighborhood of Havana
If you want to experience authentic daily Cuban life, spend a few nights in this old neighborhood. As we were unexpectedly plunged into Cayo Hueso, we found out later on it also just so happened to be the neighborhood in which the subject for MD’s fashion editorial, jazz drummer Yissy Garcia, grew up.
The neighborhood is full of friendly locals and within a few blocks from where we stayed is a street called Calle de Hamel—along the block is an art community center led by Cuban artist Salvador. This is an off the path, must-see for travelers.
Our favorite local restaurant was Locos Por Cuba, which was a cozy dive where we ate at least once a day (you may even see our picture on the wall).
Old Havana is where the streets are full of local vendors, beautiful architecture and plenty of places to stop in for a refreshing Mojito. The time capsule effect is strong here as the streets are adorned with pristine cars from half a century ago. It’s certainly the stomping ground of tourists, but nonetheless a must-see for travelers.
Mountains serve as the visual backdrop to the rural town of Viñales, which is about 112 miles southwest of Havana. One can horseback ride through the national park and visit the organic tobacco farms and learn how to hand roll a cigar.
One of the first cities founded in Cuba by the Spaniards in 1514, the colonial architecture and colorful facades gleam under the sun, while an abundance of rooftop restaurants and hidden clubs will delight all night long.
The cobblestone streets only add to the antiquated preservation of this seaside town that has been a protected UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988.