School Days

These are difficult times for the parents of Cuban school children.

Students are now allowed only one uniform at the subsidized price.  Any additional uniforms must be purchased at the full price.

Also pens, pencils, and paper are no longer available for free in school.  Parents must also purchase these items at full price.

Schools no longer provide snacks for the children. This is another financial burden for parents.

Some schools do not have adequate cleaning supplies or people to do the cleaning. Parents must supply what is needed and take turns donating their own labor.

Without air conditioning the oppressive heat is still present in September classrooms.  Some teachers have to ask students for a one CUC donation to buy a single fan because the fan from last school year is always missing.

Books are always used and must be repaired at home before classes start.

As if things were not bad enough, many teachers are leaving the profession hoping to earn more money working for themselves.

 

 

Official uniforms.

A classroom in Trinidad, Cuba

Ever present.

Wall art

Library

History

Another classroom in Trinidad, Cuba.

Nap time.

Outdoor play area with the ever-present.

 

Going Up

The water systems in most of the houses are gravity feed only

Water is stored on the roofs of buildings in either concrete or, more recently, plastic tanks. Every building has a pump to fill the tanks from the water main in the street. This is usually done at night.

When constructing a new apartment and adding additional water supply, tanks must be hoisted to the roof. This is done with ropes and pulleys and hard work.

This was interesting to watch.

Even this passer-by was wondering about the rigging.

Hard work

Concern

An assist from the landlord.

At the top

“Well done men”

All smiles now.

“Who Holds The Key” – The Back Story

“Who Holds The Key” was a street shot taken in Centro Havana.

I stopped to look at the graphics painted on two huge metal garage doors when suddenly a leg appeared, then an arm, followed by the head of this young boy.

It was obvious that he was trying to slide out between the two chained doors. It was a tight squeeze. I was shooting the whole time and hoped to capture the entire escape act, but in the middle of a contortion he spotted me he spotted me and quickly retreated into the vacant lot.

Now I had to get him to trust me and come back to the gate. Once he realized that he was not in trouble, he relaxed enough for me to coax him back to the opening. I offered him a coin to come close enough for me to frame him and get a couple of images.

I kept this image for almost a year before I decided that it was worth the effort to process it for PPA competition. I have countless hours working to refine the composition, overlay textures on the background and the doors, also to dodge and burn select areas to maximize the impact.

 

 

Beating The Heat

“You went to Cuba in August? ”

” Was it hot?”

” How hot was it? ”

These are usually the first three questions I get.

Yes, I  went to Cuba in August. When it wasn’t hot, it was hotter. I really don’t know what the temperature was. Partly because it’s measured in degrees Celsius there and partly because I didn’t want to know. It won’t kill you. People live there.

Some of the secrets to beating the heat:

Sit in the shade …. duh!

 

Sit in the shade and read.

 

Sit in the shade and sleep. (even if you are a security guard)

 

Lie in the shade.

 

Lie in the shade and sleep.

 

Stay inside (shade) and watch the tourists.

 

Stay inside (shade) and drink.

 

Have a shaved ice drink. (in the shade)

 

Go for a ride. (no shade)

 

Wait for it to rain.

 

Or ….. my favorite, go out after dark.

 

 

Scammed

Yes, I still get scammed. Most times I’ve heard it before and I can see it coming.

( Check out:https://mstevensphotography.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/the-baby-milk-scam/)

This time the “hook” was different.

It started the same way, with a friendly “where you fron?” Then quickly went to posing for photos.

The hook was the five or six old 8 x 10 black and white photos this woman had in a notebook. Being a photographer, I was, of course, very interested. She took her time showing me while her friend was offering to take me to a merchant (or museum … it was not clear) where I could see more.

When I declined to follow them to this unknown place, the gentleman offered to write the address for me. He quickly moved to the outdoor bar that was very close and asked the bartender for pen and paper. I was getting a little impatient as he took his time writing  directions.

Before he was finished, three mojitos appeared on the bar. These two wasted no time grabbing their drinks and started sucking them down as the bartender laid a bill for 12 CUC next to my drink.

I’d been had!  What to do now?

I Raised my voice and in my best “John Wayne” and my worst Spanish I said “I didn’t order, I’m not paying”.

The couple looked at me and drank faster. The bartender looked at them. I looked at the bartender.  I never touched my drink. With a dismissive hand gesture, I turned and walked away chuckling, telling myself “don’t look back”.

Cuba 2014