Compás Dance Company in Havana combines high energy Afro-Cuban percussion rhythms and a dance style of flamenco, salsa, and rumba.
My friends and I visited their studio in January only to find it closed to the public for the day. I asked if I could drop off some photos I took of the performers in October of 2015. The photos turned out to be the “key” that gained us access. We were invited in, we met with the dancers, and were treated to a rehearsal performance just for the five of us.
Just a short walk away, on the same side of the same street, from where the newest Havana hotel is being erected, a new mother struggles to provide food and shelter for her baby. She and her husband have claimed a space in one of the old gutted out buildings. In fact several families have partitioned off living spaces in this building. Mostly one or two damp, dark “rooms” with high ceilings. At least she’s on the ground floor.
New construction. Not a renovation.
Inside the mother’s home.
A place to sit.
Trinidad de Cuba is a 502 year old city. The streets in the historic district are still made of cobblestone. Most people try to walk on the sidewalks. Where there are none, the larger stones that run through the middle of the street provide the easiest path.
The tiny fishing village of La Boca is about 5 Kilometers south of Trinidad. All the boats are fenced in and the gate is tended by a nice older guy. No amount of “schmoozing” was getting us inside, though. Apparently, orders from El Jefe.
The abandoned sugar mill “Australia” is in Jagúey Grande, Cuba. They steam engines still operate, but they now pull open cars of tourists and locals. It’s been a popular stop whenever I’ve traveled from Trinidad to Havana. This time we caught a train returning to the repair station. Fun !
This sugar mill valley is in the province of Sancti Spiritus, Cuba.
The ruins of Manacas plantations, sugar mills and old colonial
estates are silent witnesses to African slaves, who were brought by force to Cuba by the Spanish conquistadors.
Iznaga Observation Tower was built in 1816.
The seven-story tower is 45 m high and crowned by a watchtower where the Iznaga family could climb to the top and see the vast sugar lands and some 15 of the valley’s 57 mills.
Three bells in the tower, each with a different sound, rang out
messages. The large bell signaled the start and end of work; the medium one, a holiday; and the small one, Easter week. The large and medium ones rung together told of a slave escape; the large and small together, a slave rebellion; and all three at once meant an invasion by pirates.
In Trinidad, Cuba I was sitting and watching people, as I often do, when I noticed the bandage on this woman’s hand. I went over to her and asked what was wrong. She told me that she has been sweeping streets for twenty-seven years and she has tendonitis. I gave her all the Advil I had in my bag and a few CUCs.