Our coconut savior.

We were speed walking the main road from Viñales, caught up in a conversation with a local who lives in the mountains. A local who had a lot to say, some I did not agree with, but entirely interested so we sped walked with him until the road he used to trek up to his home. He introduced us to Juan (not entirely sure that's his name, I remember it was a common name so I didn't write it down...) who took us to his house. He was in dire need of some money and we were in dire need of a beverage so he brought us a couple coconuts for a few dollars. He showed me around his house as if to prove he needed money, and also to prove he was ok. As an American, it's hard for me to grasp that this is everything he owns. Our society is so filled with the need to have more, to update, to have the latest... and here he is in this one-ish room house, and this is everything. I cannot say if he was unhappy in his lifestyle, but he was happy to have us visit. He had two dogs and a wall of photos from visitors who had returned, a local legend in the coconut business. Fifteen years ago when I visited with Ernesto Bazan, I clearly remember the wonderful coconuts that were offered to us after descending from the mountain visiting with Los Aquaticos (the water people), where our fast walking friend Ariel now lives on a zen farm in the hills. Could it possibly be the same coconut man? I'll have to dig through my contact sheets... Circles.

Here's a recent write up on Los Aquaticos if you are interested - http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=123062


One day with Miguel and family.



Dios bendiga este hogar.

My last day in Havana I spent the day walking and wandering, saying hello to everyone, observing and photographing. It was getting late in the afternoon and the light was beautiful so I took the ferry to Casablanca where I heard the best views at sunset were. I still had time so wandered off to the right of the Hershey Train instead of walking up the hill to El Christo. I truly did feel like I was on a hunt for that one last photo while in Cuba. Up a hill, then down an alley, and back to the main road when a door opened to my right, I peered in... the house of Antonia Perez. I think I took a few more steps before I literally backed up to say hello. Seeing my camera they knew I wanted to come in and without hesitation both doors opened and I was inside talking broken Spanish with her and her friend in awe to my surroundings. Antonia paints/draws phrases all over her walls with her favorite is "Dios bendiga este hogar" "God bless this home". She is so very proud of her home and her son who lives in Tampa with his wife and son.


On the hunt for Detroit.

I carried an old photo of the Detroit Bar I took in 2002 hoping to find it again. I stopped in at every corner cafe/bars with round stools and simple wood bar that I passed, symbols of state bars not private ones. Las Alegrias had the right stools but wasn't once Detroit. Bartender Juan Carlos served only two rums, most often to only two few patrons. Patrons that spend their days in the same spot with little else to do. These two were happy to play the role of fashion models but they kept cracking themselves up. At 11am everyone is welcoming, around 8pm... not so much.


Mario - the first person I met on my last day in Havana.

Almost every time I exited the Casa, and didn't turn right to Neptuno, I found myself turned around within a couple blocks. The second time I passed Mario he said something to me that I think was Spanish for "you returned". He smiled, I asked for a photo, and he smiled again. Mario is 98 years old! He's in dire need of a toenail clipping but moving along pretty well otherwise. One of the things I noticed the most while in Cuba is how long folks live, I met so many over 90 and one woman was 101!


Patria o Muerte

Below is another photograph of Marta from Havana. She lives in what is basically the entryway to a building, with her daughter and granddaughter, under the words of the revolution, "Patria o Muerte, Venceremos" (Homeland or Death! We Shall Prevail!) I had returned to offer some gifts and help as she has diabetes and needed medication. When I was there before, it was late, so very dark, and I did not understand how bad she had it... her room only lit by the glow of an old TV. She was grateful for gifts and would only accept $10 for her needed medications. The last few days have been a whirlwind of thoughts and opinions, from a country of residents with no voice to the U.S.A. filled with so many...



Union Square - wall of hope. Therapy in a grieving city.


Please join me this Thursday evening for a wine tasting and re-opening of O Tempo Ñao Para ( Time Does Not Stop )