Unplug and return to Cuba with Santa Fe Workshops in a small group of no more than six photographers on this people-to-people cultural exchange to continue your photographic exploration of the island. Jennifer Spelman and Carlos Otero are your guides and mentors on this unforgettable journey.
Cuban cigars are widely accepted as the best in the world. What makes them so admired is a mixture of fact and fiction. The mystique of the Cuban cigar has been cultivated by Cuba itself, in part through the most legendary faces of the island—Fidel Castro and Ernest Hemingway. The reality is the tobacco plant is indigenous to the island and the climate and rich sandy loams of the Pinar del Río region are ideal for growing it. The first plantations arose in the 18th century and tobacco quickly became, after sugar, Cuba’s second most important crop.
Join Jennifer and Carlos for a well-planned educational program to Cuba’s most scenic region. Our Tobacco Road trip explores Cuba’s western-most province and the dramatic beauty of the Viñales Valley. We travel back in time to a quieter and simpler Cuba where small, independent farmers work family plots and use ox-power to plow their fields. Leisurely traversing the lush countryside, we meet the generous Cuban people to discover the essence of their lives and culture with our curiosity and our cameras.
We arrive in Havana on Friday, February 7 and after enjoying a light lunch outside of town, depart by van to the verdant Valle de Viñales, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Our comfortable casa particulars are located a few blocks from the village center of tranquil Viñales and feature large front patios with rocking chairs perfect for unwinding after a day exploring in the countryside.
Over the next four days, we slowly meander through the beautiful landscapes. Our travels take us off the tourist path, exploring authentic fincas to engage with the humble local farmers and their welcoming families. We make photographs as they harvest their delicate tobacco crop and ready the broad, flat leaves to be hauled off by slow-moving oxen for storage before the sorting and drying process. We visit the communities of Minas de Mahatambre—a small rural town remembered for traditional copper mining—and to the nearby idyllic coastal villages and meet Cubans from all walks of life.
We take a different route to travel slowly back to Havana, stopping along the way to meet Cubans in small towns and learn about their lives while creating portraits of them. Our last full day is a time to re-explore Havana and to visit some of your favorite people and neighborhoods, culminating that evening with a lively group dinner and an image presentation of the best photographs from our trip. We depart for Miami the next day and bid farewell to Cuba, until our next visit to this remarkable country.
True to the requirements of a people-to-people General License with U.S. Treasury Department, Cuba Unplugged: Tobacco Road in the Viñales Valley, focuses on educational exchanges with the Cuban people and recording their amazing lives with our cameras.