They don’t eat carrots out of your hand.
They don’t sleep in barns.
They don’t sport fancy saddles.
Most horses in Cuba are truly beasts of burden.
They plow fields and pull wagons and carts loaded with everything from people to bricks to water to food.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him …. swim.
After one too many rums on another visit to Trinidad, Cuba, I heard myself promise again that I would bring a guitar for Hector.
Hector and I have been friends for over three years. He is the leader of a high energy group that plays their own versions of traditional and “Son” Cuban music.
Hector has never had his own guitar. Instead, he had to rent one or use the “house” guitar at what ever restaurant the group was performing.
When Hector wrote to tell me that he and Yanet were marrying, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass. I purchased a guitar for my Cuban friend. It would be a wedding present. Having his own guitar would allow Hector to earn more money and be more independent.
Simple ceremony with a justice of the peace.
At the club before the wedding.
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.
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.
El Tenedor is a family owned restaurant and hostal.
Stop in for dinner or drinks, watch the sunset, and listen to the live music on the terrace. I believe it to be the highest rooftop dining in Trinidad, Cuba. The food is good, as is the service. It’s all family here.
You’ll pass the kitchen on the way to the dining area and the terrace.
Stop and greet the chef, Emilio. He may offer to prepare a special dish for you on your next visit.
Say hello to Ava and her daughter Katiuska. You’ll feel like a part of the family. Be careful though, twelve-year-old Daniela will try to charm you out of some gum.
Don’t let the term hostal keep you from going. (it’s a Cuban classification). You will not find any difference between the rooms here and a Casa Particular. Both rooms have their own locks and are air-conditioned with private bath.
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.