There is no breeze. It’s the middle of the afternoon. It’s hot and humid. It’s the tropics, after all.
I stopped to talk with three ladies selling “refresco” out of a huge blue tank on wheels. The colored and flavored liquid they dispensed resembled unset Jell-O or, to date myself, Za-Rex. People brought their own bottles and paid a few pesos for the sticky, sweet syrup.
Two of the ladies were fanning themselves. I said to the other woman that she also needed a fan. When she replied that she didn’t even have a fan at home, I half jokingly said “Let’s go. I’ll buy you one”. I could not image trying to sleep without circulating some air.
She immediately took me up on my offer. It was almost two hours later before we found a fan. We walked in a huge circle from the west end of Centro Havana to Old Havana and back before we stumbled on an out-of-the-way store that had new fans.
I thought she was going to cry when I presented the box to her.
Looking through her bag she said “I have nothing to give you, but please take my pen”
That pen now sits on my desk.
That pen reminds me of the struggles of every day life some people face.
That pen reminds me daily of how fortunate I am.
When I travel to Cuba now, I like to go where few tourists go. In Trinidad, one area I prefer is what I call … up on the hill.
Up on the hill there are no paved roads, no quaint cobblestone streets, and few areas that don’t slope toward easier walking.
But, the people up here are just as nice and the photos are everywhere.
Part – 6
The House Out Back
The House out back is where Imara, Juniel, and Libetsy live.
Everything is neat and clean.
Outdoor kitchen area.
Backyard where a some animals are raised.
Modest living arrangements.
The genuine smiles of mother and daughter.
Yuniel and Libetsy.
Part 4 –
Where They Live
Be sure to check out my previous series – Where They Live – http://wp.me/p4fUlX-zn
The main home where five live is a short walk from the house of Yoel.
The dining area.
One of the food preparation areas.
Pot holders and rags.
Dianelis at the other cooking area.
This “stove” uses charcoal that the family produces and sells to earn a few pesos to pay for electricity. Cooking with charcoal also saves on expensive bottled gas.
Congris in the making.
A motorized bicycle used to go to into town.
Another motor that needs to be rebuilt. I was surprised to see the brand name “Stihl”. It was easy for me to order new parts.
Note the bags of charcoal for sale.
Pumping water by hand.
A home-made spear gun used to “fish”.
These wires bring electricity to the home.
Part 3 –
Meet The Family
Noel is the father of Yoel
Noel and his granddaughter Libetsy.
Repairing the child’s doll.
The three brothers, Yoel, Jorge Luis, and Juniel with their father.
I kept thinking of “Bonanza”
Imara is the wife of Juniel and Dianelis is Yoel’s sister.
Juniel and daughter Libetsy.
Imara and Libetsy.
Dianelis prepared congris over a charcoal fire.
Lunch – Fried chicken, congris, aguacate, cucumbers, yucca, fresh guava juice.
These are difficult times for the parents of Cuban school children.
Students are now allowed only one uniform at the subsidized price. Any additional uniforms must be purchased at the full price.
Also pens, pencils, and paper are no longer available for free in school. Parents must also purchase these items at full price.
Schools no longer provide snacks for the children. This is another financial burden for parents.
Some schools do not have adequate cleaning supplies or people to do the cleaning. Parents must supply what is needed and take turns donating their own labor.
Without air conditioning the oppressive heat is still present in September classrooms. Some teachers have to ask students for a one CUC donation to buy a single fan because the fan from last school year is always missing.
Books are always used and must be repaired at home before classes start.
As if things were not bad enough, many teachers are leaving the profession hoping to earn more money working for themselves.
A classroom in Trinidad, Cuba
Another classroom in Trinidad, Cuba.
Outdoor play area with the ever-present.
“Who Holds The Key” was a street shot taken in Centro Havana.
I stopped to look at the graphics painted on two huge metal garage doors when suddenly a leg appeared, then an arm, followed by the head of this young boy.
It was obvious that he was trying to slide out between the two chained doors. It was a tight squeeze. I was shooting the whole time and hoped to capture the entire escape act, but in the middle of a contortion he spotted me he spotted me and quickly retreated into the vacant lot.
Now I had to get him to trust me and come back to the gate. Once he realized that he was not in trouble, he relaxed enough for me to coax him back to the opening. I offered him a coin to come close enough for me to frame him and get a couple of images.
I kept this image for almost a year before I decided that it was worth the effort to process it for PPA competition. I have countless hours working to refine the composition, overlay textures on the background and the doors, also to dodge and burn select areas to maximize the impact.