We were riding through the countryside, the agricultural heartland of Cuba, on our way to Trinidad. Then we moved to the other side of the road and drove past this – half the road covered with something raked into rows. It was rice – tiny grains of rice. Because there was just one lane of traffic (luckily there aren’t many cars on the roads), I wasn’t able to stop for photos so I rolled down the window and clicked away.
There was a man who walked, pulling a raked to turn the rice over. This is how they dry the rice for processing. The asphalt heats up under the very hot tropical sun – maybe even toasting the rice a little. We would pass a long line of drying rice and then we would drive a little way, maybe through a village, and there would be another row, maybe on the other half of the road.
Mid-afternoon we saw men with brooms, sweeping the rice into a row. Down the row men were scooping the rice grains into bags. Bending over scooping rice with a metal rice scoop.
We learned the bags are taken to warehouses, and then brought back in the morning; repeating the process for three days. No mechanization here, this is a manual labor intensive process.
I continue to think about this, probably because it is so different than the highly mechanized society I live in. But this is a poor country where there is complete government control and the government owns almost everything. And the government doesn’t seem to be doing a good job of providing for its citizens. Even professionals, like teachers, engineers, and doctors leave their professions or leave the country because they don’t make enough to support their family. But one of the characteristics of the Cuban people that I admired is their resourcefulness. When I mentioned this to our driver, he smiled at the compliment and said that people have to make do with what they have. And I continued to see evidence of pride in this strength as I observed other parts of their culture.
And I ponder if one way of life is better than the other – or just different. This looked like the “good ol’ days” we long for when life was slower and we start to buckle under the stress of our fast-paced life. I will continue to ponder the questions in my mind as I write about other aspects of their culture. Stay tuned!
The introductory post in this series on Cuba shares the unique nature of this custom tour. You can read about it here.
Linked to The Daily Post.