I like the term “old folks” and I like what it represents. To me it represents strength, wisdom, pride, dignity, and perseverance. In Cuba, these old folks have seen a lot of hardship since the revolution. Many remember the days when Cuba had the highest per capita income of any Latin American country and higher than most of Europe. Jobs, food, and opportunities were plentiful. Cubans had a future to work for and a future to look forward to.
I’m amazed that their spirit is so strong. Old men are proud to wear a nice hat and a clean shirt when they can. Old women still fix their hair and put on jewelry.
They don’t complain. They probably wouldn’t even if they could.
I met this lady last year and she was nice enough to provide a demonstration of her weaving skills. She had hands flying and straw whipping about and soon a hat started to take shape. It was amazing.
I visited her this year and she invited us into her home for a chat. She loved the photos I gave her and was happy to pose for more.
When your disposable lighter quits working, what do you do ? Try getting it serviced in the USA. You can’t, but if you’re in Cuba you can easily find someone to replace the flint and refill the butane for a few Pesos.
It’s not easy for Cubans to travel. A basic tenet of a repressive Communist regime is to limit the mobility of the people. In cities like Havana there are busses, but they are old, dirty, and overcrowded. People also depend on full taxis, pedicabs, and bicycles. Motorcycles are also popular, but not affordable for the average Cuban. Those that can’t afford to ride, can be seen walking.
Outside of the cities, people have fewer options. They ride horses or donkeys, they peddle bicycles long distances on substandard roads, or they hitch-hike. Hitching a ride is tough. People will wait for long periods on the roadsides. When a vehicle approaches they will wave a few pesos in an effort to get the driver to stop. Even though passing traffic is almost always willing to oblige, there is not always room in overcrowded cars so Cubans willingly pile into the backs of rack body trucks. If they are lucky, they get to sit on wooden benches. Otherwise they stand. At least most of the trucks have covers that provide relief from the sun.
Abel and his wife peddle sandwiches, peanuts, and drinks.
I met them at the Malecon early one morning. Abel speaks some English and we quickly got a dialog going. He gave me two sleeves of peanuts and told me about his daughter. Being early morning, I was loaded with gifts and gave him crayons and a notebook for his child. Abel was gracious enough to pose for a few images and when I showed him some on my camera, he wrote out his address and wanted me to send them to him. (I wish I could, but doubt I will be able to.)
Abel and his wife. Peanuts are rolled up in the white cones.
Selling drinks. I have no idea what kind of juice is in the re-used plastic bottles.
Sandwiches with some kind of processed meat.
Posing with their gifts.
Havana and Trinidad, Cuba are great for “street” photography; shooting quickly to catch people and events as they happen.
It’s also fun to slow down and make more studied compositions using a tripod. Colors and textures are everywhere and scream to be photographed.
The red curtain that the wind has pushed out through window bars is an obvious focal point. The blocks of color and different shapes compliment the window.
This artwork is what someone added to a street sign on the corner of a building. I had to clean it up quite a bit and adjust the color, but to me it’s a meaningful statement.
Just another wall in Old Havana, but I wonder what the story is behind all the layers of paint.