Cindy Wilson’s Trip To Cuba – A Workshop, A Film Festival, and A Wedding

I recently caught up with Cindy Wilson about her January trip to Cuba with her Profundo Journeys group.  If you missed the first article, you can click here to read up on the culture, Havana, and the interesting biospheres of Cuba.  “This trip to Cuba was actually a three part adventure.”  Cindy went on to mention that the trip had three significant phases.  First, the Profundo Journeys trip with her 12 very engaging friends/students lasted about 11 days from January 9th through the 19th.  “Then, my Profundo Journey partner, Eileen McCarney Muldoon, flew into Cuba to unite with me in Gibara.”  Gibara is located in the Northeast section of Cuba, in the province of Holguin.  “Eileen and I are excited to be working on an exhibit to be shown next April in Cuba.  Called ‘An American’s View of Cuba.’ This exhibit will delve into our perceptions of Cuba, the Cuban experience, how are people living their daily lives, etc.”

Conversations by the Convent, Havana Vieja. Photo courtesy of Cindy Wilson Photography.

So the Cuban people, with Cindy’s amazing photos helping me of course, were an interested topic to discuss.  “There is a common thread among the Cuban men and women we met.  A “fix it” or “do it yourself” type population in Cuba, almost by default.”  With constraints on importing certain items for decades, buying a replacement part for a car, TV, or watch became extremely difficult and/or not allowed.  Think of the convenience we have when a part is needed.  You simply dial up or log onto the manufacturer’s website or contact an after market company, order the part, and have it shipped to you.  “We witnessed a healthy number of home businesses designed around this fix-it economy.  Watch repair, cobblers, mechanics – they use what they have to fix their items.”   This “re-use it, re-purpose it” concept was also evident in some of the restaurants the group visited.  “Chefs opening their own restaurants,” mentioned Cindy “were using found objects, furnishings, stuff that others might considered to be trash.  They were cleaning these objects, polishing them, dusting them off, and creating beautifully authentic displays and decorations in their restaurants.”

Colonial Facades, Vedado

I was curious about Cindy’s comment to me earlier about the cultural pride of the Cubans she had met.  “It was interested, the Cuban men and women we engaged with were all about relationship building.  As I said earlier, they wanted to see our photos and share photos of their families with us.  In some places on our travels, families were apologizing for the condition of their home or courtyard or other common area.  They have a lot of pride in their culture and country.”   I asked Cindy about any presence of graffiti or other negative art on the buildings, walls, or highways they traveled.  “No graffiti to speak of, ” said Cindy “it was more propaganda and celebrating a particular Cuban cause or public figure.  The Cuban 5, for example, were represented on walls, street signs throughout our travels.”  Others such as Jose Marti and Che Guevara were also mentioned as figures that were seen on walls and buildings throughout Cuba.  Cindy finished her thought with “if you produce artwork that is not against your government, typically in any country, you are going to be okay to express yourself publicly.”

Early Morning Rounds, Baracoa

And speaking of Cuban pride, the third phase of Cindy’s trip was a wedding.  Eliseo’s daughter, who lives in the United States, had always wanted to get married in Cuba.  So, Cindy and her husband John, who flew in after the workshop, along with Eliseo’s family and friends celebrated together.  “It was just a beautiful and uplifting experience for John and myself.  We never felt out of place or “American” or that we didn’t belong.  Eliseo is such a great guy and a great host.”  From Havana to Baracoa to Gibara, I got the sense from Cindy that all three phases of this trip were very special to her.  “This was a really close knit group, a lot of great memories, photos, and friendships were produced.  We were so blessed to have Eliseo introduce us those special people and places of Cuba.”

If you would like to learn more about Cindy Wilson Photography and these sensational Profundo Journeys, please visit to see past workshops, view photos (which can be purchased by the way), and learn about upcoming workshops here and abroad.  Cindy is off to Vietnam and Cambodia in April and her Profundo Journeys travel to Washington state this fall.  Thanks to Cindy Wilson for the incredible stories and photos of Cuba.   Safe travels!!!

Cindy Wilson Photography

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