Living Off The Land

Part 2

After visiting with the grandfather, we walked another 100 meters to the house of Yoel.


Yoel is 39 years old and is separated from his wife, but he still has strong feelings for her. I suspect they will reunite.

We were invited into his humble home.

After days in Havana, I was struck by the quiet solitude. No traffic. No Music. No one yelling for a friend on the third floor. Very peaceful. What a great place to relax and think.


The kitchen area.

A simple bench.


Living Off The Land

Part One –

Forty-five minutes south of Havana, on the outskirts of San Jose, a family of four generations survives on this farm by doing for themselves.

I was introduced to Yoel by a mutual Cuban friend. He was gracious enough to allow me and  my fellow photographer friend, Robert Ortiz to spend a day with his family.


From the paved road, it is about a 300 meter walk to the first building. This is where Yoel’s grandfather lives. He raises a few pigs and keeps bees. We were fortunate enough to have him open a few hives and collect some honey for us.


Where the hives are kept.

He pried the cover off with an old knife.

Inside the hive.

These bees do not sting. In fact, they hardly bothered us at all.

They poke holes in the waxy formations and the honey flows out.

After collecting honey from three hives, there was enough to fill a wine bottle.

All that’s left to do is to filter the honey and clean up the bucket.


In part two we move up the hill to where the rest of the family lives.


On a recent trip to Havana I got to observe firefighters in action.

I heard the sirens and adjusted my camera to catch the action as the trucks raced past. To my surprise, however, the bomberos stopped right where I was.  The street was under construction so they hustled the rest of the way on foot. It turned out to be only a small paper fire in a ditch probably caused by a discarded cigarette.








When the Food Arrives

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.


















School Days

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.



Official uniforms.

A classroom in Trinidad, Cuba

Ever present.

Wall art



Another classroom in Trinidad, Cuba.

Nap time.

Outdoor play area with the ever-present.


Cuba 2014