Mercedes is a 78-year-old living with her daughter in Centro Habana who worked as a retail administrator. (manager)
Ninety-one year old Celistina has 7 children and 14 grandchildren.
She lives quite comfortably with one son on the fourth floor of a “modern” (circa 1960) apartment building in Centro Habana.
She is the grandmother of my friend Juan Carlos.
I met Juan Carlos when I noticed him sitting next to a welder and, being a welder in my previous life, I tried to make conversation. Fortunately Juan Carlos’ English was better than my Spanish. He was waiting for someone to pick him up and take him to a job.
Juan Carlos fabricates doors, windows, and railings. What I would call ornamental iron work. In Havana many people have bars on windows and outer doors with padlocks for security. https://wp.me/p4fUlX-w1
Juan Carlos has become a good friend of mine over the last two years. He has let me photograph his apartment, taken me to meet his 92 year-old grandmother, let me photograph from the roof of his building, and introduced me to many people in his neighborhood.
Last year I purchased an electric grinder for him on the black market. Now he doesn’t have to borrow (rent) one when he has a job to do.
A modest, but clean and efficient kitchen.
A comfortable living area.
Stairway to a loft where his daughter and grandson sleep.
He keeps the welder in his bedroom.
Stories and photos of a dozen others in this series can be found here: https://wp.me/p4fUlX-AT
Living Off The Land –
Part 5 –
Making Charcoal –
The whole process to make a batch of charcoal takes Yoel eight to ten days. He must cut all the trees with an ax, haul them out of the forest with oxen and then chop them into smaller logs.
This solid pile of logs will burn slowly for three or four days.
The charcoal will then be bagged for sale or used in the family home.
Cooking with home-made charcoal.
These are not the briquettes one buys at a big chain store.
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.