Change is coming. That’s for certain. The Cuban government plans to double the number of hotel rooms in the next 15 months. I’m sure most of the new rooms will be in fancy hotels on or near the beautiful Cuban beaches. I suspect Americans, who are still prohibited from vacationing in Cuba, will see little difference. Cubans who are not “connected” with the ruling class will not benefit much. The best government jobs are always awarded to those who “know” someone.
On a more positive note, the wI-fi hot-spots created in parks around the larger cities are providing Cubans with the ability to communicate with family members on and off the island. People gather, day and night to connect with loved ones.
Of course the new black market demand is for SIM cards. Ahh …. capitalism !
Hotel renovation in Parque Central, Old Havana.
Calle San Rafael Havana
Trinidad, De Cuba
I was on a mission to find the boxing gym I had visited before.
I had 8×10′ prints for the fighters I photographed in January and they were my entry “ticket”.
I sort of disrupted their training, but no one seemed to care. They all wanted to look at the pictures.
The coach suggested that we go buy some cold drinks for everyone. I knew that meant that I was to pay, but I was happy to oblige. No soda for the coach though. He grabbed a Bucanero and downed it on our walk back.
Most photographers recognize that rain can provide unique photo opportunities. Colors appear more saturated, reflections can be found everywhere, and the texture of raindrops can add interest.
All my previous trips to Cuba were in January, a dry month. In October there was one or two rain showers almost every day.
I heard it often and I heard it in English. “Every Day Is The Same”.
Maybe it’s the newest joke or wisecrack.
I even fell for it myself.
My Havana host asked “What do you think of the world today?”
I gave him my two-minute simplified rant in basic English, then asked him the same question.
With a wry smile he said “It doesn’t matter. In Cuba, every day is the same.”
Then I started hearing it on the street.
Maybe it’s the truth.
A few more images that will have to speak for themselves:
A neighbor helps prepare a meal by crushing garlic.
Chicken and rice.
One block away from the Plaza De La Catedral, one block away from a major tourist attraction in Old Havana, and one block away from where the government wants you to go and happily spend your money ….. a three generation family of six lives in dire poverty.
Fifty-six years after the revolution this family, living in the capital city, cannot drink the tap water without first boiling it. Fifty-six years after the revolution this family must wash all their clothes by hand because a washing machine costs two years wages. Fifty-six years after the revolution there is not enough to eat and little opportunity to earn extra money.
Iribal is 74 years old and dresses up to pose for tourists who want to photograph her. Her daughter wears a uniform and works in a government museum. Her four grandchildren share whatever space remains in the two tiny apartments on the third floor.
I went looking for Iribal to say hello and give her some photos. She was not at her usual spot. I assumed it was because of the rain showers we were having several times a day. She was absent the next day too when a gentleman communicated to me that she was ill. He took me upstairs to visit her. I was a bit uncomfortable and was not going to stay long when it started to pour. Iribal’s daughter and grandchildren appeared and they insisted that I stay and wait out the rain. I sat on a small broken home-made chair and learned their story.
The main room is only about 12′ x 12′ and has one bed, two chairs, a table …..
…. two small refrigerators ….
…. and a water storage barrel. (for the Bano)
A loft directly above the main room serves a bedroom ….
…. with a view.
Accessing the other room requires climbing a narrow spiral staircase and ducking through the doorway.
A bed, a gas stove, and a few shelves for dishes and clothes are all you’ll find in this “living” space.
I was warned about the floor … to be careful where I stepped. It did not feel at all solid and I didn’t care to “drop in” on the family below.
Yes, this is how some have to live in this shining example of socialism called Cuba. One block away from all the fun and music and color.