Tag Archives: buildings

One Afternoon

A typical walk for me starts without a destination and without an agenda. At the first intersection, I decide almost subconsciously, which way to turn. I might see some interesting activity in one direction. Or, I might realize that I haven’t walked a certain street in a while. Of course, if I encounter a street that I think I haven’t been on before, I’ll choose that option.

When I’m in the right mood, I like to walk very slowly, stopping often to watch and see what is happening around me. I wonder where people are going, what they are doing, what they are buying, and what they are talking about. I want to know where they live and how they live.

Sometimes I feel badly for them, but often times I am impressed with their openness and honest good nature. People always ask about one’s family.

I make eye contact with people, hoping for a smile, a nod, a wave, or a few words.

I’m never disappointed.

These images were all made in one typical afternoon in Havana.

 

 

 

 

 

The Home Of Jose

Continued from : A Tornado In Havana

https://wp.me/p4fUlX-18X

Just down the street from Rolando, we met Jose who also wanted to show us the tornado damage to his home.

Jose had worked laboriously to remove all the rubble from his home, but we could see where walls were missing.

Many of the rooms were now open to the elements.

The Home of Rolando

Continued from ” A Tornado In Havana”

https://wp.me/p4fUlX-18X

Rolando saw us walking in the street and motioned to us. “Come into my home and see the damage”

 

He led us through his home where 12 people were living the night the tornado struck. Luckily, no one was injured here.

Most of the rooms were missing roofs.

 

Some of the rooms were missing walls that had been blown apart.

 

Things that were saved are now covered with plastic sheeting to protect them from afternoon showers.

 

Family members. Some still in shock.

 

Still managing to smile.

A Tornado In Havana

What else can happen to the good people of Havana?  …. a tornado!

On the evening of 2 February, 2019 a tornado formed and touched down in Diez de Octobre. It then raced across Luyano, Regla, and Guanabacoa; all poor barrios of Havana. Three persons lost their lives and almost 300 were injured.

My small group of travelers and I were there one week after the tragic event.

While the government had done a reasonably good job of restoring power and clearing the streets, little was being done to help the people who had significant losses. In fact, it was the churches, not the government who took care of the people. Soup kitchens were set up to prepare donated food, donated clothes were passed out, and shelter was provided those who had lost everything.

Clearing the streets.

 

These men were salvaging parts from this smashed car.

The biggest problem was wooden roofs that offered no structural support. Once the roofs blew away, walls then collapsed either inward or outward.

Of course many concrete roofs collapsed too.

The help offered by the government was to make construction materials available at 1/2 cost. Loans were also offered at reduced rates. Only those families who had money saved could afford to start rebuilding. The average family could not afford to purchase blocks and cement and sand.

Next:  We are invited into the home of Rolando, where 12 people were living the night the tornado struck.

 

 

 

Regla

Regla Is one of the many neighborhoods, or barrios, of Havana.

It’s across the bay from where the cruise ships dock. The easiest way to get there is on the ferry that runs back and forth all day long. For five pesos you can cross the bay in minutes.

The port of Regla. This building is in no better condition than any other building in Havana.

People walk the streets and try to stay cool.

Cheap rum and free conversation.

People shop for fruits and vegetables.

One of the attractions is Colina Lenin with its bronze likeness of the dictator embedded in the stone wall atop the hill. A series of steps lead to the top.  An August noon-time hike will test one’s stamina.       ( there is also a road)

Even the monument to communism is crumbling.

See a previous post on the hill of Lenin:

https://wp.me/p4fUlX-Cq

 

A Success Story – Part 2

Next Visit – October 2015

I came alone.

I brought as many of the necessities as I could, but suitcases fill rapidly. At least this family knew that my friends and I cared.

On this visit I surveyed the roof and discovered that the concrete slab needed large areas to be chipped out and re-poured. I made a mistake by hiring the son of another Cuban friend and he started after I returned to the U.S. He meant well, but I quickly realized that he was in over his head. Trying to do this long distance was not going to work. I had Tayluma take over the hiring and paying of the new workers. The money was gone and the work had to be redone, but at least now, there were quality men on the job and Tayluma was making her own decisions.

With the re-work and shortage of materials in general, the roof job took over six months. Most of the materials had to be purchased on the black market. Whenever sacks of concrete  became available it was a bidding frenzy to see who would get to buy them. The same was true for sand, aggregate, and the delivery service. But persistence paid off.

At least it was now dry inside the house.

Many thanks to my friends Kate, Louise, Pam, Matt, Susan, and Robert  for providing encouragement, support, and money to help this poor family.

Next – We build a bathroom.

 

 

 

A Success Story – Part 1

It’s time to tell this story.

Fellow travelers and friends Kate, Pam and I met Tayluma in  January 2015 in Trinidad, Cuba.

She returned my wave when we were passing by her house so we stopped and she invited us in. She proceeded to give us an earful.

Cubans can get in trouble for being too friendly with tourists, especially inviting them into their homes, so it was a shock when she unloaded on us.

She was upset and crying, but fighting for her children. ” I don’t care who knows. My children should not have to live like this.”

She showed us everything:

Leaking roof

A toilet and a hole in the ground for a bathroom.

Empty refrigerator

Electric bill in arrears

The two girls were sleeping in one bed, feet to feet, with clothes piled up to make the mattress long enough.

Kitchen that was not sanitary.

Bad Wiring

Storing water to “flush” the toilet.

The children were precious. Well behaved, quiet, and intelligent.

I shed tears as we walked away and vowed to try to help.

The next day we returned with a fellow traveler to translate for us.

I brought a bag of bread and cookies that I was able to sneak out of the hotel breakfast buffet.

We photographed and listen to her story:

Her husband moved them into this house to take care of his dying uncle. When the uncle passed, the husband left town and Tayluma was left alone with her two girls and the house.

The immediate concern was the electric bill and a roof that leaked for about half the length of the house.

The problem was that our tour was leaving the next day.

We left her with money for the electricity and food.

I was able to establish e-mail contact with Tayluma. It was a dial-up connection and not very reliable and she had to walk to the internet business, rent a computer one for one cuc/ hr. and learn how to use it. Finally she emailed me. It was her lifeline.

I got all her information and set her with up an AIS debit card account.  We were then able to transfer money to her. At least we could keep the lights on and food in the house.

Part two – We repair the roof.    https://wp.me/p4fUlX-W9