Romnis – Riding The Bus

The ride is cheap, always crowded, getting on is a free-for-all and finding a seat nearly impossible.

The fleet of buses that serve Havana are too few in number and do not arrive frequently enough, but many in Havana (the city) rely on a daily bus ride to get to work or school.

My Cuban photographer friend Romnis  and I photographed several interesting places outside Havana and he challenged me to use the bus like a native. Of course I accepted. It was July, temperature in the mid-nineties, high humidity, and bright sun every day. How bad could it be?
I’ll confess that it is not that bad. When the bus is moving, there is almost enough air from all the open windows to offset the odor of cheap perfume, bad breath, and normal body odors …. almost

As long as there looks like there will be sufficient space to board, Cubans are polite and enter the bus civily. But after the bus has been stopped a while and when space is getting tight, there comes the last-minute crush to gain entry. I was in this position on one trip.

Romnis had jumped on board and I was a bit late to follow. Two or three people rushed in ahead of me and suddenly it appeared as if I would not make it. Romnis turned to find me hesitating and with a smile he yelled “come On”. I reached in, grabbed a bar, and pulled myself into the crowd. It became instantly clear that the door would close and I did my best twisting and wiggling to make certain that it closed behind me. After a few stops, we were able to work our way a little further in and I did not have to fight with a closing door again. Romnis only laughed.

 

 

Pelota Vasca

Pelota Vasca is the official name, but the popular name for this racquet sport is Cancha.

It’s similar in speed to racquetball, but played only on one wall and the “racquets” are more like wooden paddles.

The facility is located in Boyeros and must have been quite a stadium years ago. Now, the roof is gone, the lights do not work, and new fencing is needed.

 

Of course there were a couple of boys hanging around …..

doing what boys do.

 

These men playing were practicing for the national team.

Romnis – Diez de Octubre

My new friend Romnis –  https://wp.me/p4fUlX-Tt – met me outside my casa and we set off for the Havana neighborhood “Diez de Octubre”. It was too far away to walk so Romnis waved down a taxi. Not a taxi in the usual sense. This was a Cuban taxi. The drivers own these old American cars and drive a certain route all day, much like a bus route. You pay a set price for the ride and tell the driver where you would like to get out. The price was 10 Cuban pesos (about 45 cents) each for the ride west and another 10 pesos each for the next ride to the south.

We have traveled many times since that day to photograph where tourists never go.

Meet Romnis

Romnis

He was waiting in a Havana  doorway while having his bike repaired.
As I walked past, I heard “full frame?”
It took a moment to sink in. Someone was asking about my camera ….  in English.
Of course, I stopped and a fine young man introduced himself as Romnis. We talked cameras and photography for a while. He explained that he was a student of photography at the university and showed me some of his work. I was impressed. We quickly became friends, exchanged numbers, and agreed to photograph together in the coming days.

Romnis and his professor.

The classroom. This is a private school in a private home.

In the office of the professor.

Some of Romnis work: