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.
There are miles of streets in Havana with buildings that were once beautiful hotels, casinos, night clubs, and restaurants. Now they are crumbling, gutted out, moldy living spaces. Partitions or walls have been added to divide and then divide again huge rooms into tiny apartments.
Dunia is 48 years old and lives alone.
She has no job.
A typical building that now houses many people.
Water – Potable and not.
A path to the outside provides light and fresh air.
A wonderful smile.
The cold hard truth is:
At least 7 adults use this toilet and shower stall.
There is no water here.
They carry their own water to bathe.
They carry their own water to flush.
Actually, most residents use a five gallon bucket in their own space and then use the toilet as no more than a hole in the ground.
Ebon is 48 years old and lives alone.
She’s a hustler. She works the streets, but not in a bad way. Ebon runs errands for restaurants and directs tourists to the best places to eat (or so she claims). If you need anything, Ebon knows where it can be found. She’s always moving, not standing still for more than a few seconds.
At the end of a hallway.
One room with a divider. No bathroom
Standard water barrel for storage.
Double doors provide lots of light and fresh air.
Overlooking one of the busiest tourist areas in Habana Vieja.
Eriberto is 56 years old and works as a laborer. He earns the equivalent of about 14 USD/ month.
Eriberto and his wife live in a space created by dividing Regla’s space horizontally and making two rooms out of one. To enter Eriberto’s home one has to climb stairs that look more like a ship’s ladder. The trick is to enter on your knees because the doorway is only one meter high. In fact, one has to start crawling even before reaching the top of the stairs.
Eriberto makes it look easy. It’s not.
The ceiling height is only about six feet.
Here one can see the top half of what used to be a huge window.
Well worn flooring.
Tanya is 45 years old. She and Michel live next to Regla. Neither has a job. The only work in old Havana is in the tourist industry and one needs connections to get hired.
Michel lugs drinking water to the third floor for Tanya and some of their neighbors.
Their Kitchen area.
Some of their possessions.
A table and a bed.
Cheap cigarettes and cheap rum help pass the days.