Sometimes the simplest things bring the biggest smiles. I gave this man a Ford decal for his convertible. He loved it.
Yunai is 40 years old and has no job. She shares a space on the second floor with her mother and father. Her parents sleep in a loft above the main room. They have a bathroom with shower, but again, no running water. Water is pumped at night into a storage barrel in the kitchen. This water is used to flush the toilet and to bathe. Drinking water must be hauled up the stairs in large jugs.
Once beautiful marble stairs lead to the second floor.
A long corridor to her home.
The main room showing the stairway to the loft.
A doorway to the outside balcony provides light and fresh air.
I got caught peering down this long dark corridor from the sidewalk. He was sitting across the narrow street trying to sell some clothes. All he said was “come with me” or some such Spanish phrase. I followed him down the corridor until it opened up into a courtyard. He pointed to one of the doors at the top of the two sets of stairs and said “my house”. He wanted to show me where he lived, although we did not enter his dwelling. I also saw where his neighbors lived below and beside him, behind the maze of walls and doors that defined their own living space.
I never got his name.
In Centro Habana, well off the path for most tourists, Yulaime lives with her husband and three children on the ground floor of a seven story building. This floor has no windows, is all concrete, and has high ceilings. It appears as if it were at one time a parking area. To reach her home requires a long walk down a dark corridor past the doors of where several other families live.
Yulaime’s husband does not work. She earns a few pesos by selling shots of very strong, hot coffee and loose cigarettes late at night.