Continued from : A Tornado In Havana
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.
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 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:
Cira lived in a rough part of Havana, Barrio Cerro. I say lived because I have learned that she and her 9 year-old son escaped the island. She sold the two room apartment and everything in it and paid for passage to a country in South America. She was upset with her circumstances ….. no job, no money, no hope for her son’s future.
It takes a lot of courage to leave one’s life behind and attempt to start over in a different land. I wish her well.
Someone else will live here now. Probably happy to have a solid roof overhead.
Basically, the apartment is two rooms and a bath with no running water.
I’ve known this young man’s mother and family for four years. I’ve watched him grow from an out-of-control hellion to a calmer and more well behaved boy. Perhaps it’s the Karate lessons he has been taking lately that have him more disciplined. For his 7th birthday I promised I would bring him a uniform. He was thrilled when I visited last month.
note: The age of seven is when the Cuban government cuts off the children’s milk subsidy. Now his mother has to pay full price for a bag of powdered milk.
Where they live: https://wp.me/p4fUlX-is
When it started to rain I ducked into the restaurant La Algarabia on the corner of Neptuno and Escobar. I sat at a table on the Escobar side and had an open view of the boys in action. I photographed while enjoying a great plate of Arroz Frito.
Here they are using a manhole cover as a goal, with the concentric rings used to keep score.
One marble rolled into the outer ring earns one marble from the boy taking the action. One marble in the second ring earns two. One in the center earns three.
They take turns “taking the action”.
Of course there is always an argument about something.
I came upon these two gentlemen on a not so busy street in Centro Havana. It was obvious they were trying to sell all this stuff.
There were lots of liquids in bottles of all shapes and sizes. They tried hard to sell me some of the dark liquid in a Rum bottle. I was told that I could rub it on my skin or drink it. I was assured that it would cure everything. I declined.
Then they wanted to sell me some cigars.
When I declined this offer, they gave me one to try. It was your basic working man’s five cent cigar. I have had these before and they are not bad, for the price.
I felt badly because they were very friendly and obviously could use the money. I spied the collection of old books for sale for one CUC each (about one dollar) and picked out a couple to buy.
One was a History of the USSR, written in Spanish, and published in Moscow.
The other was a history of the Trujillo conspiracy, one of the first CIA backed attempts at overthrowing the new Castro government. The book had some interesting photos.
I ended up giving them each another CUC for their time and photos.