Oswal lives in the neighborhood where I always stay in Havana. When I see him on the street, he always tries to speak with me in English. One day his mother and father invited me into their home. The father spoke some English and wanted his son to learn. I emphasized how important it will be for Oswal’s future. In eight or ten years when he is looking for work, one of the many new hotels in Havana might hire him if he speaks another language. A restaurant or hotel job would give Oswal the opportunity to earn tips in the highly coveted tourist money. ( CUCs)
In October I brought a Spanish/English dictionary and told Oswal to practice and that I would check on him when I visited again.
Before I left for home, I received a nice message from his mother thanking me for encouraging her son to study:
“Hola Marco. Estoy muy agradecida por que gracias a usted Oswal se a interesado por el english.”
(“Hi Mark. I am very grateful that thanks to you Oswal was interested in the english language.”)
When I returned two months later I presented Oswal with a study guide.
I’ll visit whenever I get back to Havana and try to encourage him more. He’s young, and girls and cell phones will distract him, but at least he now has the opportunity to better himself.
I had the opportunity to once again visit the farm of the family of Yoel.
I was, of course anxious to see how the new chainsaw was working out for them. Yoel says that the work is almost fun now and saves him many hours of swinging an ax. Yuniel, the brother of Yoel is now more eager to help too.
When I return next I will bring another chain and a spare spark plug.
It starts easily.
Even Yuniel like to work with it.
Yoel starts a soup by searing the meat.
Home-made salsa added.
Starting the vegetables.
Final slow cooking over a charcoal fire.
A swing made from an old hose.
Libetsy with her grandfather’s hat.
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.
Living Off The Land –
Part 5 –
Making Charcoal –
The whole process to make a batch of charcoal takes Yoel eight to ten days. He must cut all the trees with an ax, haul them out of the forest with oxen and then chop them into smaller logs.
This solid pile of logs will burn slowly for three or four days.
The charcoal will then be bagged for sale or used in the family home.
Cooking with home-made charcoal.
These are not the briquettes one buys at a big chain store.
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.