A wonderful part of our adventure to Cuba was the "people-to-people" connections we made along the way. Not only did we get to see Cuban artisans perform their arts or crafts, but we also had the chance to sit down with them and have conversations about each other. Sure, it was great to experience the culture of Cuba up close, but the more valuable experience (at least for us) was to be able to talk with these artisans and learn how they are able to overcome the many obstacles facing them in this relatively poor country and remain happy and upbeat. From the modern dance to the ballet companies, from the A Cappela group, to the fishermen and pottery makers, to even the society of Cuban dominoes players, they all exhibited an enthusiastic "can-do" attitude toward their lives. This, perhaps, was the one lesson that stood out amongst everything we saw and did. The Cubans, as a people, are a very warm, friendly, and happy group. And, while our two governments may not be on the best of terms, there is no reason that our two peoples can't be.
Professor Alberto Faya's lecture on the history and evolution of Cuban Music.
The professor performing some of the historical music of Cuba.
The Centro de la Danza modern dance group...
...performed a number of different dances for us.
This fantastic A Cappella group in Cienfuegos delighted us with both Cuban and American music.
The village of Cojimas is noted for its fishing. We enjoyed a nice lunch and delightful conversation with fishermen Francisco, Junior, Luis, and Anthony. Because of concerns about Cubans sailing to America, fishermen can only get permits for up to 30 hours of fishing at a time, and just enough fuel to cover that trip.
We spent an afternoon at the Casanova Pottery shop in Camaguey...
...during which the father (on the left) and son ( on the right) demonstrated the art of pottery making. The gentleman in the middle was Lazaro Valdes, our local guide and translator.
Starting on the pottery wheel, they create the beautiful pieces exhibited on the shelves...
....including pieces like this.
The professional ballet company of Camaguey is second only to the National Ballet of Havana.
Every morning is spent with at least a half hour warm-up session to loosen up muscles before rehearsing a performance.
The men's warm-up session is next door.
The ballet shoes are made right on the premises and are customized for each individual dancer...
The toe shoes partially completed.
...as are the costumes.
While the shoes wear out and are discarded, the costumes are stored and reused.
Martha Jimenez is a noted bronze sculpturist in Cuba.
Some of her work is on display in the plaza next to her shop in Camaguey.
Also located in Camaguey are husband and wife artists, Jover and Lleana. He was an art professor and she a student when they met.
Some of their art on the walls of their shop.
Learning to play Cuban style partners dominoes at a dominoes league in Havana.
...and on the street. Notice the table is balanced on their knees.
Carl and Lorraine Aveni are two retirees planning on traveling through Europe for at least one year.