Tag Archives: buildings

Where They Live – 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


Slow down



Savor the moment

Something will usually happen.

If not, move on.

I was enjoying the artwork on the wall when this man walked by, stopped, and turned around.

I waited for someone interesting to pass by this wall. The color and stripes on this man’s clothing complimented the background.

Kids will always do something interesting.

I liked the blue truck against the blue background and then a woman in blue walked into the scene.

I was trying to document the construction in Havana. This woman shows the difficulty people had just to walk the streets.

It was interesting enough to see a trailer of fans being unloaded, but then I got a wave.

There is this attraction to the “Beatles” in Cuba. I stood across from this poster in Camaguey and simply waited for subjects to pass by.

I loved the colors and patterns framing this old couple in Havana.

Sure enough, this woman stopped right in front of this wall. I could not have placed her better, myself.

Hmmmm …..











Where They Live – Come With Me

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.







Where They Live – Ondina

This will be a series about where Cubans live. Not the well off. Not the hotel employees or the tourist taxi drivers. Not the waiters or waitresses in government restaurants.  Not the ruling class.
This will be about the average poor Cuban in the capital city of the island nation.

I seek out the poor because generally I find them more open and receptive and more willing to spend time with a stranger. Probably because they have nothing else to do; no job, no black-market business to run, nowhere to collect discarded bottles and cans, or no good location to sell shots of strong Cuban coffee in the late night or
early morning.

I also seek out the poor because they exemplify the failures of a repressive, dictatorial, state-run economy better than the ruling class government employees. Those who are able to cheat the system live better lives in better homes and in better neighborhoods. Remember, this is socialism where everyone is equal and no one is supposed to own more than the next person.

This series is also follow-up to a post titled “One Block Away”.

Find it here: http://wp.me/p4fUlX-is

The poor live in large marbled stair-cased buildings that were once hotels, nightclubs, restaurants or casinos.
Now the marble is broken and dirty. The roofs leak and any plumbing that still works is ancient. The once spacious rooms are cobbled into many compartments. Each filled with a lifetime of belongings, they are now called home.
With the predominant tall ceilings, rooms are often divided horizontally also.

In three buildings I was able to convince some of the occupants to let me photograph where they live.

I only had one woman decline.

This is “Where They Live”


A typical large building now divided up into living spaces.


Ondina is 92 years old and lives alone in a room on the third floor of her building.

Greeting me at the door. Note the seat where she sometimes sits.

One room with a bed, a table, and a refrigerator.

There is a bathroom, but no running water.

Note the drinking water stored in the large jugs. Neighbors help her by refilling the jugs and carrying them to the third floor.

There is also a loft/bedroom that is unoccupied.