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.
Old men can still be found picking cans from the trash.
Flattening them allows more cans to fit in the re-purposed nylon bags that once transported rice from China or Vietnam.
A full bag will net a Cuban about five pesos or the cost of a shot of cafe at a home cafeteria.
A few random images from February 2017 that depict the daily life of residents of Habana.
Reading the official government news.
Waiting for a taxi.
Waiting for a fare.
One evening, while sitting on the patio of our casa in Vinales, Cuba, I heard a very loud and strange sound. I looked up from my sip of rum and saw these beasts dragging something down the hill. A sheet metal and wooden box had been set on top of an old tire and chained to the animals. After the gentleman made a couple of stops it became clear that he was hauling away trash in this curious contraption.
I heard the crying from several houses away.
As I neared, I spotted her sitting behind the railing on her steps. A little girl with giant tears streamed down her face. I immediately started to mock her sobs in a comforting, parental way. “What’s the matter?” “Why the crocodile tears?” “What are you sad about?”
Her mother appeared in the doorway. I flashed some gum to her, asking if it was alright for me to offer. Her mother smiled and nodded.
I turned my attention back to the sobbing little girl and I stuck out my hand with a piece of gum. The sobbing stopped. The little girl knew what to do with the treat. In a flash it was unwrapped and in her mouth. Quickly she was joined by her sister and they started posing for my camera.
It didn’t take long for the tears to dry and smiles to appear.
Centro Habana is alive and bustling
It’s where I prefer to stay
The bici-taxis, motor cycles, motor bikes, and cars (both old and new) dodge and weave their way through streets full of children playing, old folks with canes or walkers, young people in a hurry, and
those just hanging out and talking.
The beeps, toots, whistles, rings, or blaring Reggaeton music warn all to step out-of-the-way.
Somehow it works.
It’s amazing that there are not a rash of accidents.
Tu Kola is the Cuban equivalent to Coca Cola. Apparently a shipment arrived in Havana on this day because I saw cases being delivered in more than one location.
At Bar Metropolitanos my friend Damian found himself in the middle of the action. After he posed for a photo with two cases of cola I showed everyone the image I made earlier of a guy carrying six cases into another restaurant. We all had a good laugh.