\u00a0Daryl Hawk photosExplorer, international documentary photographer and Wilton resident Daryl Hawk touched down in the capital city of Havana on April 18 and set off on a 2,700-mile quest across Cuba to capture the soul of the once-estranged island nation. \u201cIt was one of the most memorable two weeks and one of the most exciting documentaries I\u2019ve ever done in my life,\u201d he said. \u201cIt was incredible.\u201d In Cuba, Hawk spent the two weeks capturing photos of the people, land, architecture and essence of cities such as Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Santa Clara, Camag\u00fcey, Santiago de Cuba and Havana, as well as the rural Vinales region and the country\u2019s diverse coastline, lowland plains and interior villages. During his trip, Hawk said, he took around 5,000 photos. After returning home, Hawk spent three to four weeks organizing them into a presentation called \u201cInto the Heart of Cuba,\u201d which he will share at Wilton Library on Sept. 15. Hawk said Cuba was \u201cthe perfect balance between beautiful light, beautiful color, and extraordinary people.\u201d \u201cNative people are often very reserved and introverted,\u201d he said, \u201cbut in Cuba, they were much more extroverted, outgoing and excited to see me.\u201d Hawk said the people of Cuba were \u201creally, really friendly, outgoing, warm, inviting, very enthusiastic, humble, and very excited to see an American\u201d \u2014\u00a0especially one traveling by himself. \u201cIt was very unusual for them to see an American all alone traveling like I did,\u201d said Hawk, who was one of the few Americans granted unrestricted access to Cuba. \u201cMost people who go to Cuba go in groups, and up until about March, Americans were only allowed to travel in groups.\u201d After President Barack Obama visited the island nation, Hawk said, he received word that Americans were able to go there and travel alone. This, he said, was the opening he had been waiting for. \u201cI\u2019ve had Cuba planned for about 10 years, but I just couldn\u2019t go because I\u2019m known to always travel alone,\u201d said Hawk. \u201cAs soon as I found out that you could travel alone, I immediately put together this whole trip and planned it out. It was a lot of work, a lot of research, but I was able to put it all together in just a few months.\u201d Hawk said the \u201ckey ingredient\u201d to his successful trip was securing a good driver and guide, which he was able to do with the help of his neighbor, who happens to be from Cuba. \u201cThe roads were challenging \u2014 a lot are rough and unpaved,\u201d said Hawk, who rode around the country in a 1953 Chevy. \u201cIt\u2019s not an easy place to travel around.\u201d Hawk said he travels alone because it\u2019s important for him to be totally engrossed in his work. \u201cI really immersed myself in Cuba for those few weeks. I totally cut myself off from the outside world because I wanted to be in the moment, in the place, 24 hours a day,\u201d said Hawk, who rented out rooms in people\u2019s homes instead of staying in hotels in order to get a more intimate, personal experience and understanding of what life is like in the country. Hawk said visiting Cuba was an \u201cenergetic\u201d and \u201cspiritual\u201d experience with \u201cnon-stop visual stimulation from dawn to dusk.\u201d \u201cYour senses go into overdrive,\u201d he said. \u201cIt\u2019s a real privilege to do what I do \u2014 to see life up close.\u201d Hawk said his goal is to \u201cdo the most in-depth documentary ever done on Cuba,\u201d which means going back \u201cat least a couple more times.\u201d \u201cI\u2019m going back again in December,\u201d he said. \u201cEven though I covered about half of the country this last time, there\u2019s still a lot of areas \u2014 mostly in the eastern part called the Orient \u2014 that I need to get back to and document.\u201d To learn more about Hawk, visit www.darylhawk.com and www.hawkphotography.com.