Cuba Journal: Free Roaming With Cuban Art and Photographs

This segment titled “Cuba Journal” contains entries written from when I traveled to the country while making an upcoming film. I’m posting these journal entires completely raw, without editing them in any way. I didn’t just write these now… they’ve been written since I was in Havana the second time (I sadly didn’t keep a journal the first time through when I was with the baseball team).

I also have some videos to accompany some of these entries. These are mostly taken from a phone camera while I’m inside my room, although I’m going to try and find time to edit them a little bit to make them more interesting to watch, and to tell the stories better. Therefore, the video content in this journal “may” be edited, but the text will remain entirely untouched.

With that out of the way… Here’s entry number 5. If you’d like to watch and read any of the previous entries, just visit the rest of the journal.

Cuba Journal Day 3: Free Roaming With Cuban Art and Photographs

Day 3 in Cuba has been quite enjoyable. I began the day late, which is normally a bad thing considering the group will be far ahead of me. However, some good came out of it, as I was instead invited by Robin and Jose (two primary Cuban representatives of First Hand Aid) to join them for breakfast instead. They took me to a small little restaurant that sold some simple sandwiches. It’s apparently a good place that the local people go for a meal, and I welcomed the cheap prices.

What I found most interesting about this small Cuban place (and many like it) is their inclusion of English and American culture in their lives. While I was eating this sandwich (which had very dry bread), an episode of Mr. Bean was on the television. I haven’t seen the show much, but it’s definitely not Cuban programming. Yet there it is, playing in a place where tourists never go.

Today was another free day for the group, and almost everyone spent their time sight seeing and relaxing with some drinks. Gordon and I began the afternoon hunting down some possible candidates for some Cuban art work to purchase for the Grand Valley Art Gallery. There are some fantastic pieces on display for students and faculty to observe throughout the campus, but to my knowledge, there is very little, if anything at all, from Cuba. Gordy is hoping to change that a bit.

Artists in Havana are very friendly, and unlike those who will attempt to sell tourists some cheap souvenirs they have to offer, art dealers seemed to let us wander around and check out their stock for a bit before approaching us. Personally, I think this has a bit to do with the extra patience an artist has for their work. That bit of time commitment seems to be rubbing off on them, and I like that they allow us the time to appreciate their craft before speaking with us about it.

We ended up finding some fantastic pieces, and met some very nice people along the way. Many of the dealers were there selling for their friend, or a brother or husband. Gordy was only looking to grab contact information from these amazing artists, so that the art could be purchased on a return trip at a later date. Many of the people had a difficult time understanding that bit, and almost none of them had any sort of business card to hand out to us. They likely aren’t used to tourists coming in for information like that. They’re used to people just buying it or walking away.

After a bit of art browsing, Fausto, his daughter Amanda, and I decided to hit Old Havana one more time in search for a few attractions that were on their list. I felt it was a great opportunity for photography, and so I went along with them. One of their stops was a very large cemetery here in Havana, which has hundreds of large and interesting tombstones which could have been great to shoot. Unfortunately, once we got there we discovered that non-Cubans have to pay in order to get in. Seeing as though this is a cemetery, I didn’t enter, but Fausto decided to get a little closer, since he was born here in Cuba around 60 years ago.

We’re looking for Cuban Art

I’ve got some images of us browsing for art in Havana. Click the button above to see more.

Charlie Pryor

Charlie is a media producer, writer, and a traveler. He grew up in Michigan, all of his life and attended Grand Valley State University for a B.S. in Film and Video Production. He's married to a wonderful woman named Hang, and simply hopes to one day turn himself into a man that many will remember long after he's gone.

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