Yunai is 40 years old and has no job. She shares a space on the second floor with her mother and father. Her parents sleep in a loft above the main room. They have a bathroom with shower, but again, no running water. Water is pumped at night into a storage barrel in the kitchen. This water is used to flush the toilet and to bathe. Drinking water must be hauled up the stairs in large jugs.
Once beautiful marble stairs lead to the second floor.
A long corridor to her home.
The main room showing the stairway to the loft.
A doorway to the outside balcony provides light and fresh air.
I got caught peering down this long dark corridor from the sidewalk. He was sitting across the narrow street trying to sell some clothes. All he said was “come with me” or some such Spanish phrase. I followed him down the corridor until it opened up into a courtyard. He pointed to one of the doors at the top of the two sets of stairs and said “my house”. He wanted to show me where he lived, although we did not enter his dwelling. I also saw where his neighbors lived below and beside him, behind the maze of walls and doors that defined their own living space.
I never got his name.
Sonia is 55 and lives alone next to Bube on the second floor of a once beautiful building.
A court yard open to the sky.
Concrete walls and cheap ceiling tiles
Kitchen area with bathroom to the side
Bube is 40 years old and lives with her husband. They have one daughter. All three sleep in one bedroom. They cook with gas and have a bathroom, but no running water.
In Centro Habana, well off the path for most tourists, Yulaime lives with her husband and three children on the ground floor of a seven story building. This floor has no windows, is all concrete, and has high ceilings. It appears as if it were at one time a parking area. To reach her home requires a long walk down a dark corridor past the doors of where several other families live.
Yulaime’s husband does not work. She earns a few pesos by selling shots of very strong, hot coffee and loose cigarettes late at night.
There are miles of streets in Havana with buildings that were once beautiful hotels, casinos, night clubs, and restaurants. Now they are crumbling, gutted out, moldy living spaces. Partitions or walls have been added to divide and then divide again huge rooms into tiny apartments.
Dunia is 48 years old and lives alone.
She has no job.
A typical building that now houses many people.
Water – Potable and not.
A path to the outside provides light and fresh air.
A wonderful smile.