Miami can be the background of the rich and famous in the news and the movies, but the Magic City is also a place where all kind of different communities melt, live, and prosper. Among them, the first Cuban generation of exiles arrived in the area of Little Havana after the Cuban revolution that took place in 1959. In this and future posts in the PORTRAIT category, I will go deep documenting this transitional group, the pioneers that set the course for others who arrived later on. I will do it one Cuban American at the time.
Maria de las Nieves
Many fellow Cuban-American ladies end with the only name of Maria plus one last name at the time they become US Citizen. However, their original names were Maria and another first name in their Spanish version. Today, I am introducing Maria de las Nieves, a name who translates as Mary of the Snows in English. But in Miami, she became mostly Maria N. Noin.
“ I was born in Havana and I arrived in the United States after one year exile in Spain, a time I will never forget because I was very happy there”. Maria de las Nieves.
As an only child, she left Cuba alone with 20 years to go living with her Spanish family. Her father Angel was the only member of the family who remained in Havana from the three brothers who migrated from Spain together.
“In Miami, I worked at different places, until I started as a clerk at the U.S. Post Office around 1978”. There she married a co-worker, an American born and became Mrs. Noin-Lake for 15 years.
“Now I am retired and divorced, back to my family name Noin. Since I was a piano teacher in Cuba, maybe I can fix my piano and practice on my own. I have a lot of free time now”, she says.
Fifty years after arriving in Miami, Maria maybe retired but she is always workaholic. In addition to her notary public office from home, Nieves seats in two Board of Directors for different non-profits that take much of her time, besides taking care of her three dogs and one little cat, her preferred new fluffy friend named Tiger.
How I worked
As in the previous posts of the series, I did her portrait with the medium format Mamiya 645 in a tripod using only the ambient light from the window and door that I kept in the frame against all classic photography advise because I rather include the documentary information of the surroundings in a photograph than cut it to avoid a back light . At the same time, I recorded all her story with a digital to kept and consult her testimony.