Where They Live – Ondina

This will be a series about where Cubans live. Not the well off. Not the hotel employees or the tourist taxi drivers. Not the waiters or waitresses in government restaurants.  Not the ruling class.
This will be about the average poor Cuban in the capital city of the island nation.

I seek out the poor because generally I find them more open and receptive and more willing to spend time with a stranger. Probably because they have nothing else to do; no job, no black-market business to run, nowhere to collect discarded bottles and cans, or no good location to sell shots of strong Cuban coffee in the late night or
early morning.

I also seek out the poor because they exemplify the failures of a repressive, dictatorial, state-run economy better than the ruling class government employees. Those who are able to cheat the system live better lives in better homes and in better neighborhoods. Remember, this is socialism where everyone is equal and no one is supposed to own more than the next person.

This series is also follow-up to a post titled “One Block Away”.

Find it here: http://wp.me/p4fUlX-is

The poor live in large marbled stair-cased buildings that were once hotels, nightclubs, restaurants or casinos.
Now the marble is broken and dirty. The roofs leak and any plumbing that still works is ancient. The once spacious rooms are cobbled into many compartments. Each filled with a lifetime of belongings, they are now called home.
With the predominant tall ceilings, rooms are often divided horizontally also.

In three buildings I was able to convince some of the occupants to let me photograph where they live.

I only had one woman decline.

This is “Where They Live”


A typical large building now divided up into living spaces.


Ondina is 92 years old and lives alone in a room on the third floor of her building.

Greeting me at the door. Note the seat where she sometimes sits.

One room with a bed, a table, and a refrigerator.

There is a bathroom, but no running water.

Note the drinking water stored in the large jugs. Neighbors help her by refilling the jugs and carrying them to the third floor.

There is also a loft/bedroom that is unoccupied.


3 thoughts on “Where They Live – Ondina”

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