Sixty-two faces all shot in a two-hour span while sitting at Bar Metropolitano in Havana Centro.
It took ten times as long to put this together as it did to make the photos. The file size ended up over 4.5 GB before flattening and it will print over 12 feet wide. It was one of those projects that was more involved than I imagined.
Oswal lives in the neighborhood where I always stay in Havana. When I see him on the street, he always tries to speak with me in English. One day his mother and father invited me into their home. The father spoke some English and wanted his son to learn. I emphasized how important it will be for Oswal’s future. In eight or ten years when he is looking for work, one of the many new hotels in Havana might hire him if he speaks another language. A restaurant or hotel job would give Oswal the opportunity to earn tips in the highly coveted tourist money. ( CUCs)
In October I brought a Spanish/English dictionary and told Oswal to practice and that I would check on him when I visited again.
Before I left for home, I received a nice message from his mother thanking me for encouraging her son to study:
“Hola Marco. Estoy muy agradecida por que gracias a usted Oswal se a interesado por el english.”
(“Hi Mark. I am very grateful that thanks to you Oswal was interested in the english language.”)
When I returned two months later I presented Oswal with a study guide.
I’ll visit whenever I get back to Havana and try to encourage him more. He’s young, and girls and cell phones will distract him, but at least he now has the opportunity to better himself.
Generally, I like to walk slowly and observe. Sometimes, however, I’ll stop in front of a background that I like and wait. It’s usually not long before someone interesting will walk on by.
There is no breeze. It’s the middle of the afternoon. It’s hot and humid. It’s the tropics, after all.
I stopped to talk with three ladies selling “refresco” out of a huge blue tank on wheels. The colored and flavored liquid they dispensed resembled unset Jell-O or, to date myself, Za-Rex. People brought their own bottles and paid a few pesos for the sticky, sweet syrup.
Two of the ladies were fanning themselves. I said to the other woman that she also needed a fan. When she replied that she didn’t even have a fan at home, I half jokingly said “Let’s go. I’ll buy you one”. I could not image trying to sleep without circulating some air.
She immediately took me up on my offer. It was almost two hours later before we found a fan. We walked in a huge circle from the west end of Centro Havana to Old Havana and back before we stumbled on an out-of-the-way store that had new fans.
I thought she was going to cry when I presented the box to her.
Looking through her bag she said “I have nothing to give you, but please take my pen”
That pen now sits on my desk.
That pen reminds me of the struggles of every day life some people face.
That pen reminds me daily of how fortunate I am.
Shirts, no shirts
Shoes, no shoes
One shoe on and one shoe off.
It’s a hot and humid August evening in Centro Habana, but nothing matters to these boys when it comes to having fun playing fútbol.
They play across a narrow street in Centro Habana with open doorways serving as goals.
Balls bounce off walls and curbs, but the action doesn’t stop unless a pedestrian gets hit while sneaking past.
I had the opportunity to once again visit the farm of the family of Yoel.
I was, of course anxious to see how the new chainsaw was working out for them. Yoel says that the work is almost fun now and saves him many hours of swinging an ax. Yuniel, the brother of Yoel is now more eager to help too.
When I return next I will bring another chain and a spare spark plug.
It starts easily.
Even Yuniel like to work with it.
Yoel starts a soup by searing the meat.
Home-made salsa added.
Starting the vegetables.
Final slow cooking over a charcoal fire.
A swing made from an old hose.
Libetsy with her grandfather’s hat.
When I travel to Cuba now, I like to go where few tourists go. In Trinidad, one area I prefer is what I call … up on the hill.
Up on the hill there are no paved roads, no quaint cobblestone streets, and few areas that don’t slope toward easier walking.
But, the people up here are just as nice and the photos are everywhere.