A Car Ride

On a side trip to the small fishing village of Cojima I wandered off on my own for an hour. I saw teenagers on a broken down sea wall enjoying the crashing waves. I saw colorful homes and found the baseball field, but nothing was photographically appealing. I had a nice peaceful walk and was just turning around when an old Russian Lada pulled up. Inside was a Cuban family who obviously spotted me for a tourist. They wanted to talk, so we engaged each other with minimal language skills. They were fascinated with me being an American, especially when I showed them a photo of my house in New Hampshire covered with snow. I had gifts for the two small girls in the back seat and a gift for the mother. They were most appreciative. I tried to give the man something, but all he wanted was the picture of my snow-covered house. “Mucho frio” was all I could understand as we all laughed. He then offered me a ride back to where I left my group. How could I refuse?

 

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“Cinco”

I paused in my walk up a side street in Trinidad and said hello to a mother sitting on her steps. In the street were five young children playing with a deflated soccer ball. I had some gifts in my camera bag so (trying to be funny) I made exaggerated gestures counting the children … uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco. I sat down beside the mother and kept repeating “cinco” as I pulled out pens and gum and key-chain flashlights. Of course, before I knew it there were children everywhere …. 10, 12, 15, I lost count. The mother and I laughed as I kept repeating “cinco ?” She did a good job keeping the children in order. They immediately responded to her directions. After exhausting my stash, I thanked the mother and headed for the hotel.
Later that evening, well after dark, I was sitting in the park enjoying a concert and a cigar. Someone walked by, shined a light on me and said “cinco, cinco”. It was the mother. She and I were both laughing as she passed into the night.

 

 

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Baseball Cards and Fujifilm Instax

I made 3.5 x 5 inch baseball cards of two Cuban players who are now in the U.S, Yasiel Puig and Yasmani Grandal. They were a big hit with the kids and an even bigger hit with young men. A great icebreaker too.

John Barclay brought a Fujifilm Instax camera (think Polaroid).

On this occasion we were visiting the village of Cojimar, Hemingway’s old hangout. I walked up to a group of young men and sat down beside them. I passed out some cards and we were instant friends. John then photographed them with his Instax. When the images started to appear on the prints, their reactions were priceless. Great idea John.

 

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Son Cubano

(Son Cubano is a style of music that combines Spanish guitar melodies with African percussion rhythms.)

Disclaimer: I am no music aficionado. Generally, I prefer quiet. It may be my age or it may be from years working in heavy construction where silence is rare.

However, on this trip I truly enjoyed the music. Personable, young Cuban musicians interacting with their audience, playing on old, inexpensive, Chinese-made guitars provided great memories.

This group, Son Villalba, played it all. From the high energy “Bailando” to the wonderfully light, almost haunting version of “Guantanamera”, to Hector’s guitar solo of John Lennon’s “Imagine” where we all tried to remember the words.

Magical moments in Trinidad de Cuba.

 

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Son Villalba

Shot at 1/30, sec f2.0, iso 3200

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Hector

 

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Sincopa

 

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Nioge

 

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Note how this guitar is strung. Three sets of two strings produces a unique sound.

Six Friends

I knew this woman from my previous trip to Trinidad de Cuba. She’s a street sweeper. When she’s not out in the cool of the pre-dawn sweeping her streets, she can be found in the park next to the fancy schmancy tourist hotel asking for soap. I had come upon her two mornings before. It was a situation where we both stopped and stared at each other for a moment. At the same instant we both realized that we knew each other. Smiles and hugs and kisses immediately followed. She said she had six American friends and I was one of them. I gave her some money and wished her well. It was much too dark for a portrait, so off I went. She had learned from my photo partner which day we were leaving Trinidad and was waiting in the park that morning with gifts for US.  God bless these people.

 

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Cuba