Cuba – Havana Señor’s and Señora’s

Greetings and salutations,

Thanks for all the kind comments and looks at my Cuba blog posts. Last week the emphasis was on the children of Cuba. For the next couple of weeks I’m going to focus on the adults that we encountered in Cuba. Some of the encounters are through photos only but my hope is those photos will help illustrate a small part of the story of the Cuban people. This week I’ll introduce you to some of the people we met in Havana and on the bus trip to Trinidad.

The first full day we were in Havana, we made a stop at one of the main plazas in Old Havana. We were taking in the sites and shooting photos when I noticed this person following us around and saw that she was drawing a caricature and discovered it was me! So when it was completed she wanted me to “give” me the drawing for a small donation. I think I gave her 5 CUC’s (about the equivalent of $5) and asked to take a photo. A couple of things to note, first the heavy paper is recycled, theres something on the other side. Second, if you note the name badge, it signifies that this person is sanctioned by the Cuban government to “work” drawing images of tourists, it’s their job. Those without badges are imposters and if caught can suffer severe repercussions.

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Meet Alberto. Donna and I met him when walking near the Malecon during on of our free times. He wanted to talk English with us and we obliged, it was pretty good. When he found out we were from the US, he wanted to talk even more. The most memorable thing about our conversation was his statement that the US and Cuban governments can have strong disagreements but that the people of both countries can be friends. So true! Photo credits to Donna.

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Here’s a man in Hamel’s Alley enjoying a drink and cigar, those Cubans sure do like their rum and cigars!

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The next series of photos are from a walk we took to a nearby neighborhood park in a downtown Havana. Although this wasn’t a huge park by our standards, there was a lot of stuff going and getting a lot of use.

This photo is of a group of “seniors” doing an exercise class or tai chi, we couldn’t resist taking some photos.

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And a few steps away was a young couple smooching away on a park bench. They were totally oblivious that we, or anyone else for that matter, was watching them!

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These three guys were sitting on the bench discussing what I assume were the events of the day or maybe baseball, the national sport. I took a few photos before they noticed me and then I asked them if I could take their photo. They agreed and enjoyed looking at the result on the camera LCD. Then the fellow in the middle proceed to talk to us in Spanish and it took us a little while to figure out what he was saying. He was telling us their ages, the guy on the right is 70, the guy in the middle is 80, and the fellow on the end is 90! Then they asked our ages and thought we were mere youngsters compared to them. They were so funny and got quite a kick out of talking with us. Again, happy to meet people from the US.

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Just down the street after walking away from the park, we saw a couple of guys sweating it out rehabbing a house. They were covered in what I assume is plaster dust, the bags he’s leaning on are full of the debris hauled from the house on their backs. Not much mechanization in Cuba for most jobs, part of their “full” employment promise!?

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Then a few steps further down the street, we get stopped by this guy who asks me to take his photo. Told us that he was a “preacher” didn’t say of what but wanted to pose for a photo. Enjoyed our short visit with him.

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So the walk to that park was fun and interesting, took lots of photos. Another day we went to Fusterlandia Art Park created by Jose Fuster several years ago, I’ll explain more about this place in a future blogpost. Anyway while we were walking around Fusterlandia, we stopped to take a photo of one of the decorated houses and out walks the owner. Again, he wanted his picture taken in front of his house, you can see a bit of it in the background, more of cobbled together shack by our standards but he was very proud of his dwelling. After the picture taking and a short conversation, he walked into the neighborhood, where he was greeted enthusiastically by neighbors and friends on the street. We got the idea he was one of the neighborhood characters, kind of looks like it!

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One morning we were walking along the Malecon when we saw these guys fishing and took a few photos. Note they don’t have poles but have tape wrapped around their index fingers to keep the string from cutting their fingers, effectively using their fingers and arms as a fishing pole!

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After leaving Havana for Trinidad, we made a stop at this “rest area” at mile marker 104 that had pay restrooms, a couple of souvenir shops, a coffee shop and a even pina colada stand. They find all kinds of ways to sell rum drinks to tourists!

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At the rest area, I was intrigued by an old motorcycle parked out front, saw lots of old cars but not many old motorcycles. I took several photos of the cycle, then the guy comes out and gets on ready to head out on the highway when a friend comes out to talk with him. Never too much in a hurry when friends appear, part of the warm and friendly Cuban culture.

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Well thats it for this week’s post, some the people we saw and interacted with in the Havana area. Next week watch for photos of people from Trinidad, Cuba.

Take care and travel safe,

Tom

 

 

 

 

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