I stopped to communicate with a woman in a doorway. I say communicate because I don’t speak Spanish. When she learned that I was an American she insisted that I come inside and meet her family. I met a brother, sister in law, cousin and various children. I also met this woman’s daughter and her child. This girl couldn’t have been more than 17 or 18 years old. They all wanted to pose for photos in this dark and dank apartment. The mother then insisted that I take a photo of the ceiling. The ceiling was half gone. I thought this was curious until she showed me where the young mother (her daughter) had to sleep … right under the hole in the ceiling. The bed was canopied with plastic to keep the rain off.

Now, I think I’m pretty tough and not a lot bothers me, but this brought tears to my eyes. I said some quick good byes, slipped the mother a few CUC and headed back to the street. All I could think about was how hard it rained the night before and how lucky I was to be living in one of the premier hotels in Havana._MG_8536_b_c_d_e_fused copy _MG_8541a_b_c_fused copy_MG_8555a_b_c_fused copy_MG_8556 copy

Surviving in Cuba

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In the U. S.  it’s called recycling. In Cuba it’s survival. Every morning this gentleman walked to the Malecon with his sacks of plastic that he pulled from trash cans and dumpsters. He washed all his cups, forks, and spoons in a puddle so that he could turn them in for a few pesos. Everyone has to earn something extra because the government doesn’t provide enough wages or rations for basic survival.

He was full of life though and never begged for money. He told us he used to be a boxer and always wanted to pose in his fighter stance. I got him to show me what he was smoking. It was no Cohiba. It was a working man’s cigar, a Moya.

Cuba 2014