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.