Greetings and salutations to all my followers,
This week the focus is on the children (niños) of Cuba. We found the kids to be fun, engaging and curious about us, the gringos, wandering around their towns and shooting photos wherever we went. For many of them, seeing themselves in a photograph, even if it was only on the back of a camera, was very exciting and made them smile those big, welcoming Cuban smiles. Most of these photos were taken during our limited free time during our trip, when we were free to explore on our own. All of the photos have a fun story to go with them that I hope helps you to better understand what it’s like growing up in Cuba.
Let’s get started. On our first full day in Havana we went to one of the four main plazas in Old Havana, Plaza San Francisco. While there a group of kids under the supervision of an adult were trying to catch pigeons. Like kids anywhere they made their own fun running after the pigeons, don’t know what they would done if they caught one!
And here’s another group of kids entertaining themselves near Ambos Mundo (Hemingway’s hangout) in Havana. I call this one “just hanging out” just like Hemingway but without the rum!
These two little girls were playing among the decorated cats in another one of the plazas in Old Havana.
A couple of days later found us at the Muraleando Community Art Center (La Tanque, translation “the tank). This center was created by a group of community members and artists to clean up the neighborhood. The area had become a garbage dump near the Havana rail yards. They refurbished the water tank that now is the backdrop for entertaining the community and guests as well as a place for teaching art to kids and for local artists to sell their art. One of the youngsters shared a poem with us that she had written, too cute for words! The other photo in the pair is of her and her sister. Such darling kids, they also danced along with the musical group, lots of energy.
One evening Donna and I walked to the nearby Malecon, a wide esplanade or seawall that stretches about 5 miles along the Havana coastline. It is a very popular place for Cubans to congregate especially on weekends to see friends and relax. It’s also popular with fishermen and young people to neck with each other! One does have to watch for the surf spraying over the seawall as I found out during a later visit. Anyway across the street there is a big plaza (a near the US embassy) where a group of 14-16 boys were playing futbal (soccer). I wandered over and starting taking photos and they immediately began to mess around just like teenage boys anywhere in the world. One of the boys was brave enough to come over and try out his english (the kid in the bright green jersey in the lower photo), he did ok (he told me he was very proficient, well maybe for Cuba but remember he’s a know it all teenager!). Anyway a fun interaction with Cuban teens.
The young fellow in the following photo is very special to me. On our last afternoon in Havana, we had some free time so Donna and I walked further into the city where we came upon a park with lots of people. The first group we encountered were these boys playing marbles (they call the game “balls”). I started taking photos and soon they wanted to see the photos on the back of my camera. Again, they were very excited and full of smiles when they saw their photos. This kid gave me one of his marbles (he was winning!) which I didn’t want to take because I know most anything is hard to come by in Cuba but he insisted. I was greatly honored by his gift and treasure his small gift of not only the marble but his friendship. I wish I could send him (or his mom) a copy of this photo.
And here’s the boys continuing their game of marbles.
On our bus trip from Havana to Trinidad, we stopped near mile marker 104 (I think) for a little R&R (restroom, coffee and trinkets). While there we noticed a couple of small children playing with an old tire in their yard. We offered the Mom some small gifts and then took photos of the kids. This is a family that doesn’t have much so anything was appreciated.
When we got to Trinidad, we noticed a considerable change from the more city like Havana to a more rural Trinidad. Most of the streets in Trinidad were cobblestone, some wide some very narrow, all with people walking to their destination. Cars were much fewer but horse drawn carts were everywhere. This “bus” was taking kids to school in the morning, I’ll venture to say there are very few kids in the US arriving at school via horse bus.
Here’s another photo of kids going to school by different conveyances.
These photos are of a family heading home after school and probably work for the parents. One boy with four sisters, I had pity for him!
Here’s another special kid we met while walking around in Trinidad. He came up to us and started talking Spanish but we told him we only knew a few words. Finally, he ran to the back of his house and brought out his goat, he was very proud of his goat and want us to see it. It was so sweet to see him look at the photo of him and his goat! It happened that the rest of the family was on the porch watching this interaction, I asked them if would like their photo taken, the father was willing but the mom and girls ran into the house holding their hair!
These boys were playing with tops and wanted to show us how they made them spin and then pick them up with the string. They really wanted to impress us with their skill but sometimes it just didn’t work out.
These little girls were walking home from school together, chatting away.
The final photo is of these little girls sitting on the stoop and were looking at something past me. I almost turned around to see what they were looking at but then I’d of missed this special shot. Again, too cute for words.
These are the kids of Cuba, precious, innocent, happy, and friendly. Again, just like kids in most of the rest of the world.
Until next week amigos,