|Maria Lopez sold peanuts and pepitas|
Most of the time she only has a first name, or perhaps a doorway in the background to identify the person or the location in the photograph. She charges nothing for her work, her reward is the satisfaction of making someone smile when they receive her gift.
It is also a pleasant way to meet people, to be invited into their homes, and to really get to know them. She started shooting portraits on Isla 17 years ago, shooting the pictures one year and then returning the next with the enlargements.
|Cindy with Cuban friends|
One of her earlier portraits was of a mother, father, the children and their grandmother. Soon after she took the photograph the mother passed away. The grandmother and kids have continued to have a special place in her heart.
Another special memory is when she captured the original lighthouse keeper at Punta Sur as he demonstrated blowing a conch shell like a horn. He passed away several years ago and the family has since approached Cindy, asking if she could possibly reprint that image as the original was damaged in hurricane Wilma. At the time her photographs were on film, not digital. This past year she had to hunt through numerous negatives, looking for that particular image in hopes of recreating the family keep-sake, of bringing them a bit of joy. There are times when she is asked to take a photo of an old photo that is fading or damaged. She retouches the original picture and returns with copies that can be kept by the family.
|Young ladies in Cuba|
Cindy discovered Isla Mujeres back in the late 1990's with her husband Steve, and has been returning to the island as often as possible ever since. As she walks through the neighborhoods she will occasionally spot one of her portraits hanging on a wall inside a house. It brings a smile to her face to know it is still being appreciated. She has also donated photographs to fundraisers for PEACE, the Little Yellow School House, and Isla Animals plus other charities back in her home town of Milwaukee Wisconsin. The featured portraits shown here, are from Cuba, because she keeps the images from Isla Mujeres solely as gifts to the family.
|Cindy practicing with Japanese sword|
With many interests and passions Cindy is a practitioner in the art of Chinese Kung Fu, wielding swords and staffs with efficient ease. On her trips to Cuba - bringing suitcases of food, shampoo, toothpaste, flip flops and shoes to the nationals - she also packs her sword so she can visit and play Kung Fu at the large Wu Shu Kung Fu school in downtown Havana.
While on Isla Mujeres she is training at the Escuela de Lima Lama with Maestro Julio. This year she transported a Japanese sword for Julio. At customs in Mexico, she was asked what was in the large box and when she replied that it was a large sword plus shoes to give away, they told her to walk around the scanners and by-pass security!
|Well known Cuban woman - recently passed away|
Cindy's random acts of kindness started about twenty years ago, after a botched surgical operation.
Near death, she made a promise to her Creator: “Let me stay here on earth, and I will find ways to be good and kind to other people.”
And she does.