Salvador

By gregebersole

December 16, 2015

Category: Travel

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This is Salvador. He is an artist, doing mostly murals. This photo I took last month. I first met him in 1993 on my first trip to Cuba. I had read the book, Trading With the Enemy by Tom Miller. In his book, he wrote a little about Salvador. I decided I wanted to see his murals. During that visit, I walked to the area where there were some of his murals painted on walls and the sides of a few buildings. After taking a few photos, a woman leaned out of a window overhead and started talking. She said Salvador would be riding up in a few minutes and to wait and we could meet him. I was with my girlfriend at the time. Sure enough, he came and we were invited in for coffee. We became fast friendswith he and his wife and later, we were introduced to their friends, Rudy and his wife. Rudy had a car and could get gasoline on the black market. We ended up riding around together many days to various places, including a beach one day. Rudy used to be a secret policeman and knew where all of Castro’s homes were. Once, when we went by one, he said, while stroking an imaginary beard, “don’t look but there is one to the right.” Of course, we all looked. I took a lot of photos of us on our excursions together. We enjoyed their friendship. At that time, Salvador had been allowed to leave Cuba and travel to other countries when he had a mural to do. Recently, when I went back to Cuba, I brought along several photos that I had printed up to give to him. I went to his area, now a big tourist attraction. There were a lot more murals there and often, live performances were featured with musicians and dancers performing Afro-Cuban dances. I met Salvador again. I think he vaguely remembered me. I gave him the photos and he smiled at them. We talked a little and then an assistant took me into his extremely cold air conditioned studio where I saw a lot of his paintings. His wife wasn’t home so I didn’t get to see her. Salvador wasn’t as friendly this time. He just seemed a little cold. I guess maybe it was because he is more famous and successful now, I don’t know. I was left feeling a little disappointed. I returned a week later and was taking some photos again of the murals when he rode up on a large motorcycle with music blasting away. We greeted each other and then he walked away, as if he didn’t even recognize me. When I returned home to the states, I was looking through some of my art work and paintings from my travels that I’d kept in a large chest and I found a couple small and large paintings that had been signed by him, back in 1993. Twenty two years had changed things, but I was glad I got to see him and get a few current photos of him. I’m happy that I knew him back before his life changed. Now, he and the area where he lives and works, have become a tourist attraction with crowds of people coming by every day.

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