Once or twice a week, around dusk, a convoy of dozens of trucks loaded with fruits and vegetables from farms in the neighboring provinces park on the narrow streets of Centro Havana.
Food has arrived and everyone is smiling and in a good mood.
Trucks are greeted by vendors looking to buy goods to sell in their markets or on the street from their push carts. Everyone wants the best produce to sell throughout the week.
It may look confusing to a tourist, but this is a fast paced, well choreographed event. Vendors push their carts quickly from truck to truck. They know who usually has the best carrots or plantain or fruta bomba.
Hundreds of people from the neighborhood also gather in the streets. It is a party atmosphere. After all, everyone benefits.
These are difficult times for the parents of Cuban school children.
Students are now allowed only one uniform at the subsidized price. Any additional uniforms must be purchased at the full price.
Also pens, pencils, and paper are no longer available for free in school. Parents must also purchase these items at full price.
Schools no longer provide snacks for the children. This is another financial burden for parents.
Some schools do not have adequate cleaning supplies or people to do the cleaning. Parents must supply what is needed and take turns donating their own labor.
Without air conditioning the oppressive heat is still present in September classrooms. Some teachers have to ask students for a one CUC donation to buy a single fan because the fan from last school year is always missing.
Books are always used and must be repaired at home before classes start.
As if things were not bad enough, many teachers are leaving the profession hoping to earn more money working for themselves.
A classroom in Trinidad, Cuba
Another classroom in Trinidad, Cuba.
Outdoor play area with the ever-present.
The cast net has been in use for years the world over and many who fish in Havana use this method.
It requires skill to throw without tangling and requires even more skill to haul it back in quickly without losing any fish that have been captured.
I watched these fishermen early one morning on the outskirts of Havana.
The water systems in most of the houses are gravity feed only
Water is stored on the roofs of buildings in either concrete or, more recently, plastic tanks. Every building has a pump to fill the tanks from the water main in the street. This is usually done at night.
When constructing a new apartment and adding additional water supply, tanks must be hoisted to the roof. This is done with ropes and pulleys and hard work.
This was interesting to watch.
Even this passer-by was wondering about the rigging.
An assist from the landlord.
At the top
“Well done men”
All smiles now.
The painters are here.
The government is providing the paint and paying for painters. It’s an effort to put some “eyewash” on parts of Havana Vieja and Havana Centro. It’s all to make the city more appealing for the tourists, although many of the buildings are still in dire need of structural repair
“Who Holds The Key” was a street shot taken in Centro Havana.
I stopped to look at the graphics painted on two huge metal garage doors when suddenly a leg appeared, then an arm, followed by the head of this young boy.
It was obvious that he was trying to slide out between the two chained doors. It was a tight squeeze. I was shooting the whole time and hoped to capture the entire escape act, but in the middle of a contortion he spotted me he spotted me and quickly retreated into the vacant lot.
Now I had to get him to trust me and come back to the gate. Once he realized that he was not in trouble, he relaxed enough for me to coax him back to the opening. I offered him a coin to come close enough for me to frame him and get a couple of images.
I kept this image for almost a year before I decided that it was worth the effort to process it for PPA competition. I have countless hours working to refine the composition, overlay textures on the background and the doors, also to dodge and burn select areas to maximize the impact.
“You went to Cuba in August? ”
” Was it hot?”
” How hot was it? ”
These are usually the first three questions I get.
Yes, I went to Cuba in August. When it wasn’t hot, it was hotter. I really don’t know what the temperature was. Partly because it’s measured in degrees Celsius there and partly because I didn’t want to know. It won’t kill you. People live there.
Some of the secrets to beating the heat:
Sit in the shade …. duh!
Sit in the shade and read.
Sit in the shade and sleep. (even if you are a security guard)
Lie in the shade.
Lie in the shade and sleep.
Stay inside (shade) and watch the tourists.
Stay inside (shade) and drink.
Have a shaved ice drink. (in the shade)
Go for a ride. (no shade)
Wait for it to rain.
Or ….. my favorite, go out after dark.