Monday, December 31, 2007

Next year in Cuba..

Taken in a cemetary in Guanabacoa...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Feliz Navidad!


Wishing all of you viewing and those that cannot view a wonderful Nochebuena y prospero ano nuevo!
I repost this image....in the upper right hand corner on the right bell tower of La Catedral De La Habana you may be able to see where it says " Gloria A Dios En El Cielo y En La Tierra PAZ Feliz Navidad". This image was taken just before the visit of Pope John Paul II to Cuba in January of 1998.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Juntos Con Fidel...

"Together with Fidel in the new millenium...happiness to you"


This image was taken towards the end of 1999...

Monday, December 17, 2007

M-26-7

M-26-7


Always around July 26th throughout Cuba you'll find cuban flags...everywhere! As the months pass you'll continue to see traces of the small paper flags that adorn everything.
This is a very typical street scene in La Habana...so much life...someone on the street yelling up 6 stories...music from many different radios...the piropos...it's a very addictive energy. You could walk the same street every day at the same hour and it's miraculously always different...and the best part is you don't know what to expect around the next corner.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I spy...


an "angel" and the "devil". This dance troupe was rehearsing for a show and I was fortunate enough to be seeing with my ears this day. Music is prevalent all over Cuba...it seems that no matter where you go, no matter what time...someone is listening to and moving to music.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Just one photo...then


she was gone...I heard crying and next thing you know there's "mami" with child. Parents in Cuba are so protective of their children at a young age...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Getting ready for Nochebuena...


It's this time of year that you'll begin to see hidden in balconies, bathrooms and any spare space the fat pig...all year families will feed whatever scraps they have to fatten him up. Quite often several families will "co-op" to share in the meat once he is butchered.
Nochebuena is a wonderful spanish tradition. Some traditions even communism can't eliminate.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Everything gets...repaired


No matter what it is most items don't get thrown out they get repaired...in an economical model such as is Cuba's...everything has value. Cubans are meticulous about taking care of the few items that they possess.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Che oversees the Ruins of La Habana


Anywhere you go in Cuba you'll see this image of Che Guevara in most homes, artwork, key chains. Capitalism runs amok in Cuba...and Che rolling wherever he might be. As I walked through this building...many parts of it have already collapsed...buildings that in many parts of the world would be condemned and destroyed...for lack of housing many Cubans have little choice but to live in ruins.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Street Portrait 1


Taken at the corner of Neptuno and Galiano...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pinar Del Rio-Train Station


I find place that people meet fascinating and train stations are just that...
Waiting in Cuba is a national epidemic...you'll see lines everywhere. Cubans are very patient and waiting is a way of life.
They are waiting for a lot of "cambio".

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cubana in La Habana

In La Habana it's commonplace to see or better yet hear a man whisper a "piropo" as a woman walks by him.

"If beauty were a sin, you’d never be forgiven."


"I’m now sure there is a heaven because I’ve seen an angel."


"Oh! If you could cook like you walk, I want to eat scraps!"


"So many curves, and me without brakes."


Pi-ro-po \pi-‘ro-po\n. pl-pos [Sp. Piropear]1. An amorous compliment 2: A flirtatious remark.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

They say there are ghost in La Habana...


Taken with a long exposure and as luck would have it, someone started walking through while the exposure was being taken...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

"We Must Be Soldiers Of The Economy"


All over Cuba, you'll see signs exorting Cubans to greater ideals, better times ahead...that all is well...I think the only ones that read these are the foreigners that visit Cuba.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Un hombre y un Pala


Taken in the Plaza Vieja during it's renovation...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I am not sure what...

looks worse for wear the bench or the human being?

Dance Recital on the Prado de La Habana


So much hope, joy and possibilties...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Train Station in Guines


Patiently waiting for a train...the silence...observations...gossip amongst others...I am most intrigued by the young woman sitting with child in her arms.

Monday, October 22, 2007

He used to play...



baseball in the streets...jumped from the Malecon into the ocean...chased girls with reckless abandon...
Now he has a family to support and the "burden of adulthood" to live. So many young Cubans grow up with hope and promise...thinking their parents lives will not be repeated in their own...
This is a bicitaxi...transportation is so lacking in the cities that these inventions started showing up in the early "90's. Some are so elaborate they have radios/cd players...cushioned seats...lights...they are legal and licensed (taxed) but as the "paladares" have been so taxed that they are hard to find, so to will these someday meet the same fate.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

With Fidel Revolution


If with Fidel there is "revolution" ...one can only hope that without him...



The vertical letters references the "Commitee for the Defense of the Revolution" CDR


The CDR officials have the duty to monitor the activities of each person in their respective blocks. There is an individual file kept on each block resident, some of which reveal the internal dynamics of households. Most Cubans will tell you:, "We must be careful of our actions and of what we say, as we are being constantly monitored".



Other responsibilities include arranging festivals, administrating "voluntary" community projects and organizing mass rallies. The CDRs are organized on a geographical basis and act as a center for many who do not work in farms or factories, hence the committees have a large proportion of female membership. The committees have been cited by certain Human Rights groups as being involved in activity described in Cuba as "acts of repudiation". These acts are believed to include abuse, intimidation and sometimes physical assault against those deemed "counter-revolutionary".

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sometimes you gotta look up!


When walking the streets of Cuba, it's more like a stroll. Looking forward isn't enough...there are many points of view...sometimes I walk backwards...look up...down...and I can't even begin to count the number of doorways entered and stairwells climbed.
This image was a nice surprise. I can only surmise that the window was created for an improvised bedroom in a room with a tall ceiling, this idea is called a "barbacoa" like a loft in concept. No space is wasted.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Cuba......Si


This was taken in Santiago de Cuba...I loved the grafitti...the light was right and I just waited for the "ghosts" to pass by.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

He told me that...

he hasn't heard from his daughter in three years, that she lives in California.



Many of us may have family in Cuba...let's not drink from "la coca cola de olvidar"



If you have family in Cuba, reach out, don't let them feel as if they are forgotten.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Cuban Spirit


I often refer to the Cubans patience, love for life and making cafe cubano from coffee and chicharos. (In the libreta, each family is entitled to Coffee...but the coffee often has "chicharos" added "chicharos are split peas grounded up to give the impression of more coffee)
So when life gives you cafe con chicharos...you make Cafe Cubano.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Bueno Dia Companero...


"What's happening?...I really don't know"
"What do you mean?...I can't take care of my family anymore...my daughter has left the country in the arms of a tourist...my son took off on a raft for Miami and I haven't heard from him in three years...my wife has cancer and there is no treatment for her...we don't have the dollars necessary...
"Mentira...Maria went off with that old guy from?....y you haven't heard from Yusnel?...surely he's ok...one day he'll show up looking fine con mucho regalos. Surely with our health care there is a treatment available for Margot...there's health care for everyone!
"Oye Compadre...you said it yourself..."mentira"...it's all lies...I don't believe anymore...not even in myself...if I had been "hombre" enough...I could've taken care of them better...Maria wouldn't have turned to "jiniterismo"...Yusnell would've stayed instead of being eaten by "los tiburones" and Margot may have lived better and not gotten sick."
"I was once called the "new man" by the revolution...but in all reality I am just an old man con nada...no dreams...just a nightmare...

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Tropical...paradise?


Image taken on the famed Paseo del Prado in La Habana...
This guy doesn't even own a matching pair of shoes! A sandal and a shoe...the socks don't match...He's not homeless...this is what he has.

Monday, September 24, 2007

On my way...


To Spain! I'll be back to posting next Monday...
Thanks to all of you that are visiting. Love to hear your comments!
Thank you...Roy

M7 Por Cotorro


There are at least 5 set of eyes watching me...this is part of the camello M7 which runs to Cotorro on the outskirts of La Habana. Camello meaning 'Camel' as a metaphor to the look of this form of transportation. It's pulled by a a semi truck...has a hump in the front followed by a dip and another hump at the other end.
Transportation is unreliable at best...quite often late...always packed and a good chance you'll be groped or robbed.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Wise words...



"Put your brain into function before putting your tongue in movement" a literal translation...




Oh how I wish I heeded these words so many times in life...




A building once stood in this location...quickly small shacks started being built. There is a tremendous lack of housing in La Habana. Most homes have several family members living together.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Icons


Icons to many...can you spot them...Charles Barkley...Che Guevara...la Cubanita...the Catholic Church...
This image was taken the first year that Fidel Castro permitted the celebration of Christmas...just prior to the Pope's visit in 1998.

Superman in La Habana


No he's not "that" Superman that we have heard about...
Walking along Avenida Montserrate in La Habana...I chanced upon this gentleman who repaired glasses...notice the collection of used frames. To his left on the wall was a page torn out from a magazine showing him in a Carnaval in the 50's dressed as Superman.
As I have noted in prior posts, everything in Cuba gets recycled and nothing is wasted...except the potential of the Cuban people.

Monday, September 17, 2007

No Hay Nada...


I love notes, signs, little messages meant for someone to read. This one " NO HAY NADA" (There is nothing) was posted on a door of a state run store. Quite often these stores sell one item and when they run out, they close shop and try to find another way to resolve their day to day struggles.


I have seen this note many times... and heard it murmured many times on the lips of a passing Cubano.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Cuban Portrait...Boys of Summer


Tonight my son...looking forward to his first sporting experience...soccer...in the same breath asked when he gets to play "baseball" and this image came to mind...I relate most of my day to day experiences with experiences in Cuba.
So ingrained in my memory, I can remember details, locations...the sounds, what was going on around me...I have such a sense of peace and tranquility in Cuba...I feel led by a spirit...a presence that seems to be guiding my sense of feeling...seeing with my soul.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Cuban Portrait...San Lazaro


On a trip to the Church of San Lazaro on the outskirts of La Habana, el Rincon...a yearly pilgrimage takes place every December to this revered place...thousands journey to this place to pay a promise made to the San Lazaro, the patron Saint of the sick.
This gentleman sat next to the entry where many crippled and physically challenged Cubans can be found begging for any change, food or offering that a visitor may give.

A Cuban Portrait...Plaza Vieja


At first I was attracted to the gesturing...slapping down of "las fichas"...the commentary..."me pegue"(the joyful, cocky voice of the player who puts his final domino piece on the table at the end of the game) but as I observed the "theater" that I love in life. I noticed this "actress" playing her role...I love the way she fixed her hair carefully bringing the curls out (reminiscent of a cupie doll) out from under her bandana...her bright eyes alert as they danced from each participants gestures...it was late in the day...

Monday, September 10, 2007

The "13 De Marzo" Incident




When I photographed this little one from the docks of "la lancha de Regla" all I could think of was those innocent children...
"... until the suspicious deaths of the innocent are clarified, there will be no light in our country, or in our justice... There is no excuse for silence, silence cannot be forgiven. Nothing justifies crime, even [if it is carried out] in the name of the Revolution. That reminds us of when people have been killed in the name of God... We are waiting for justice to act."
This is quoted from a letter sent to the Cuban Minister of Justice and the Attorney General from several Cuban attorneys. More can be read in the official Amnesty International report on this sad incident.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Home Depot in La Habana


Most Habaneros live with the reality that when a pipe is beyond repair...that the electric wires short out...a glass breaks...that it won't be easily replaced. Stores just don't carry the items necessary for home maintenance...
But when a building collapses...and after every major tropical rainstorm and hurricane there are quite a few that go down...there's a run on the "home depot"... the resourceful Cuban knows that the ruins are recyclable.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Chacon...


I first experienced Chacon in "La Bodeguita Del Medio" in 1996. He would play his "tambor" and sing a rap just whatever came to mind...as he would sing and play his tambor he would frequently slap his head in ritmo...notice that he is covered in tattoos...his entire body...from head to toe was covered in tattoos...even the inside of his bottom lip.
One day I found him at home in a small shack on a hillside in Casablanca...a small village across the Bahia De Habana...as most Cubans he invited me into his home and proudly stated "mi casa es su casa" made me some coffee...and sang...his home was simple...no electricity...dirt floor...open windows...I felt at home...at peace.
He sits at the feet of the Santera Saints playing his "tambor".
He passed away in 2003...truly missed.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Looking for Havana

On my last trip to La Habana in January, I had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman who was the camerman for the well known movies, Fresa y Chocolate and La Vida Es Silbar. He was sharing with us stories of a new documentary titled Buscandote Havana. This documentary comments on the life and struggles of "palestinos", undocumented Cubans living in Havana. These are Cubans that come from the country looking for a better life. They make a life in Havana without the documents that allow them to legally live there. On You Tube after seeing the first part there are two additional parts of this documentary to the right.


Often they set up a home in areas close to the city, constructing with whatever they can get there hands on, i.e. wood, cardboard, sheet metal. These shantytowns, called fanguitos are similiar to the favellas in Brazil. Quite often they lack running water and electricity, without proper papers they are not entitled to medical care, education, la libreta and if caught they are sent back to their province.


This image was taken at a fanguito in San Miguel De Padron, a suburb on the outskirts of Havana. What amazed me about what I saw was the cleanliness and ingenuity of the occupants...just look at this hammock...two sticks, a sheet and some rope.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

What purpose a balcony?




A balcony affords us a front row seat to the theatre that is the street… a reflection of our own lives or...


Maybe a balcony gives one a rest…a sanctuary from the reality of life.


We hang clothes from a balcony, our plants…a dove/pigeon will rest there not to fear of the cat…a child will pee from that place knowing that those below cannot get to them quickly if at all.


Maybe like Juliet, One waits for their life, their love to manifest itself...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Why Black and White


Often I am asked, Why Black and White?


Initially, I sought to differentiate myself from the numerous photographers photographing Cuba in colour. That B/W would be taken more seriously by the observer and not be lured by the beauty of colour. Then I thought that I would shoot in B/W until Fidel Castro dies and then go to colour. ( As in the movie The Wizard Of Oz, recall that the movie starts off in B/W until Dorothy's house lands on the wicked witche's sister in Munchkinland)



But then tonight I came across a speech by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. A Knock At Midnight . In it Rev. King states: "At midnight colours lose their distinctiveness and become a sullen shade of grey." Read the speech and in many ways it's "medianoche" in Cuba.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Habana...Libertad


Usually I see fishing boats named after women...maybe a mother or wife...a daughter or a lover. But this one named his "Liberty"...does the fisherman feel some sense of freedom when on his little island?
My grandfather was a fisherman...he was a courageous, strong man and had an quiet endurance in life. When we would go fishing...he knew where to go based on landmarks and looking into the water...we would always embark at dawn and by noon had a cooler full of fish...all caught with a hand line attached to a "cuban yo-yo" a round implement that is used to hold the line. I would feel the line with my finger and could feel the fish biting...once it grabbed that bait I would jerk the line...set the hook and pull the fish in. It's a good memory...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Always being watched...


I am very aware as I walk throughout Cuba, that there's at least one pair of eyes on me. It's not unusual that someone will pass by and say hello and mention that they saw me in another part of town last week Friday...
Just hanging out on a corner, listening, taking in the scene and I noticed the guy on the balcony...smoking a cigarette and looking at me...he then turned his gaze elsewhere turned to enter the apartment and had to take one more look...

Back to School


One night I showed my father-in-law a portfolio of my Cuba images, as he slowly and quietly looked at the photos, he stopped at this one..."what's this? Students at school with no shoes...this can't be...esperate eso es una escuela en mi pueblo! (wait this is a school in my town!) He kept shaking his head in disbelief not wanting to believe.



Mi suegro is a professor in this small town in Eastern Cuba...he still teaches but also has taken up photography as a profession shooting birthdays, Quinceneras, ID photos (carnet)...$20.00 a month wasn't enough after over 20 years teaching.

Monday, August 20, 2007

In their dreams...


they are dancing on a world stage...dancing for Alicia Alonso and the Ballet Nacional De Cuba.
There is a cuban phrase..."no cuesta nada sonar"...it cost nothing to dream.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Vista De La Habana


This view is fom the Casablanca area...
I try to include an individual in all my images. Often I will find my view and then wait till the moment is right.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Ruins of Havana

It is impossible to ignore the dangerously undermaintained shape of a serious number of La Habana's buildings ― many of which collapse or become uninhabitable and unusable each year.
Theodore Dalrymple’s essay Why Havana Had to Die addresses this more depressing view rather eloquently. Dalrymple writes of ‘the Ruins of Havana’ and bluntly reminds us that, “Forty-three years of totalitarian dictatorship have left the city of Havana ― one of the most beautiful in the world ― suspended in a peculiar state halfway between preservation and destruction.” This is a great read!

Friday, August 10, 2007

"Is it still worth $1,000.00?

I walked through a door that led to a large patio with the doors to many apartments...toward the far corner I noticed a woman preparing what appeared to be pineapple juice...I asked if she was selling the juice and she invited me to have a seat in her living room. I asked where the other rooms to her home were, just seeing a room and she looked up and told me that their was an upstairs...a barbacoa...a loft crudely built above where I was sitting. I asked if I could see and I was told to take a look. I climbed a very narrow staircase and was now in her and her daughter's bedroom...two beds separated by a very old amoire. "I have something to show you but you must promise not to say mention this to anyone" I agreed..she asked that I turn around and I heard her rummaging..."you can turn now" what she had in front of me was an United States Thousand dollar bill, President Grover Cleveland...minted in 1934..."is it still worth $1000.00" I looked at it and stated that if it was a real bill that it was and to a collector maybe worth even more. She offered it to me for $800.00 explaining that she wanted her daughter to have a "quince". I politely stated that I could not be sure that it was real and why not take it to the "bank". I asked to photograph the bill...I went back a month later interested in purchasing the bill...



She sold it to the government and received $750.00...their take was 25%. It was real after all...