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.
Simple things can provide genuine enjoyment and funny moments.
Bring some balloons and make a big deal out of blowing them up. You know, the old Tom Sawyer and the fence white-washing scene. (You tell them they cannot possibly blow up these balloons and they will tell you that they can.) Soon you’ll have a crowd of children and some adults wanting to get in on the fun.
Easy start with his hat on.
Soon realizes the difficulty and loses his hat.
Expressions are priceless.
Confidence. “I got this”
The hat goes back on.
Husband and wife
Their son actually has an easier time.
My dear friend Oscar can be found near the Convento de San Francisco de Asis in Trinidad, Cuba.
He’s a gentle man with a friendly smile who lives out-of-town. Every day this seventy-four year old loads coconuts and bananas onto his wheelbarrow and pushes them into town to “his” spot in the street.
His spot is at a park near the tall tower in town. Here he sells coconuts to tourists. He’ll select one for you and expertly chop the top off by wielding his machete. When just a hint of the white coconut meat is revealed, he will cut it away and insert a straw so that you can drink the milk. When finished with the drink, return the coconut to Oscar and he will again wield his tools to split the fruit and cut out the fresh white meat for you to eat.
He doesn’t like to complain, but after you get to know him he’ll tell you that arthritis in his hands and tendonitis in his arms make it difficult for him to do his job.
If you see Oscar, slip him a CUC for me. Or better yet, buy a coconut.
I had the unique opportunity to meet and photograph this ninety-five year old man. He looked good to me, but his daughter said Pablo’s health is failing and he requires a lot of care. He remembers the days before the revolution when he drove an ambulance, but did not want to speak of those times.
I stopped to greet a sweeper and heard a voice calling out from across the street. Another man seemed excited and as he approached, he was trying to communicate that he remembered me. He communicated that I had photographed him splitting cacao pods for tourists ten months earlier on the same corner where we were standing. It took me a bit to recognize him, but he was right.
Then he ran back across the street, ducked through a small door, and emerged with bunch of bananas for me.
Lots of great people in the small city of Trinidad.