Sunday, July 1, 2007

Ofelia is Cuba!

I see pride, dignity and perseverance in spite of the difficulties of living in Cuba.

Ofelia gets up every morning, dresses, has her café cubano and some bread. As she leaves her home, a wooden shack on the rooftop of a six story walkup, she locks her door with a chain and padlock and walks down the steps to the street. On her way to either Cathedral Square or Plaza de Armas, she will secure a flower to decorate her headdress.

When I met Ofelia she was sitting outside of La Bodeguita del Medio on Calle Empedrado. This is one of the most famous Cuban restaurants in the world. In this tiny space, with hardly enough room to move, the walls are covered with the signatures of luminaries like Nat King Cole, Brigitte Bardot and Errol Flynn, just to name a few.

As I attempted to photograph her, her fingered wagged in front of her face and declared “take picture…one dollar” I agreed and took several images to which she commented “one picture…one dollar”. I had to laugh and gave her a dollar. This picture was taken in July of 1996, I visited her this past January 2007, she was getting ready for the cameras…

* A side note: In my many conversations with her…she would often preface her statement with the word “imaginate” translated “imagine it”. This always stuck with me as I tried to “imagine” what life was like, how the Cuban people managed to “resolver’ their day to day issues.

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