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.
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.
Old men can still be found picking cans from the trash.
Flattening them allows more cans to fit in the re-purposed nylon bags that once transported rice from China or Vietnam.
A full bag will net a Cuban about five pesos or the cost of a shot of cafe at a home cafeteria.
Simple things can provide genuine enjoyment and funny moments.
Bring some balloons and make a big deal out of blowing them up. You know, the old Tom Sawyer and the fence white-washing scene. (You tell them they cannot possibly blow up these balloons and they will tell you that they can.) Soon you’ll have a crowd of children and some adults wanting to get in on the fun.
Easy start with his hat on.
Soon realizes the difficulty and loses his hat.
Expressions are priceless.
Confidence. “I got this”
The hat goes back on.
Husband and wife
Their son actually has an easier time.
A few random images from February 2017 that depict the daily life of residents of Habana.
Reading the official government news.
Waiting for a taxi.
Waiting for a fare.
One evening, while sitting on the patio of our casa in Vinales, Cuba, I heard a very loud and strange sound. I looked up from my sip of rum and saw these beasts dragging something down the hill. A sheet metal and wooden box had been set on top of an old tire and chained to the animals. After the gentleman made a couple of stops it became clear that he was hauling away trash in this curious contraption.
If you have learned a skill, you’ll never be out of work. This is especially true in Cuba.
I’ve discovered several shops where ornamental iron work is fabricated. Skilled workers make custom door and window pieces for added home security and decoration.