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.
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.
Simple tools for simple jobs does not mean the jobs are easy.
Here, workers re-pave a section of the cobblestone street near Plaza Mayor in Trinidad, Cuba. Picks, shovels, and hoes are used to remove the stones. The area is leveled with gravel and the stones are refitted and tamped into place with wooden posts.
On this July day the work done is in the cool shade of early morning.
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.
If you are observant and pay attention, opportunities for images will present themselves to you.
You have to be quick because often those image opportunities don’t last long.
On the back streets of Trinidad I saw this little cowboy tugging on a horse’s reins. He was not afraid. Perhaps because his father was there. Perhaps because the family horse was quite tame. When the boy turned toward me, I was able to capture his expression.
This man, Michael, will arrange a taxi for you in Trinidad, Cuba.
You can find him in Plaza Carillo.
While negotiating a ride to Topes de Collantes, someone suggested that he needed an I-Pad.
“I have one” he said, “and its unbreakable”.
He pulled out his notebook and slammed it on the ground. When he picked it up, he flipped through the pages and said “see? … it still works”.
We all laughed for several minutes.