Chaos in Cuba


Ben Huberman’s The Daily Post photo challenge this week is “chaos.” We just returned from a tour of the central portion of Cuba, traveling by private taxi with a tour guide. We drove through small villages and down country roads, giving many opportunities to view Cuban daily life. As I attempted to understand their culture and living conditions, I experience mental chaos over the difference between my lifestyle and the lifestyle I was observing. Because I was frequently forced to take photographs from a moving, bouncing car, some of them are out of focus causing visual chaos.


We stopped at several markets – this one was at Iznaga, a few kilometers from Trinidad. It was the only one that featured locally made pulled-thread table linens. I was interested in purchasing something and when I stopped at booths the women who made the articles were eager to tell me about their merchandise – even though their English was very limited. A couple of women urged me to, “Remember me. Remember me.” That was effective. The larger woman in the photo kept an eye on me as I thought about what I wanted to purchase – and followed me to her competition a few tables away. I kept reminding her that I would “remember her.” She was pleasant and happy and very tenacious. I bought something from her and also her daughter who is standing with her.

As I walked back down the road, women saw the articles I was carrying and assumed I was a buyer. Mental chaos ensued as they came at me from multiple directions. Our guide had taught me to say, “No, gracious.” But one woman chastised me because I had promised to remember her and I had bought from someone else. She had even written my name “Peat” (spoken with two syllables) on her hand. I had to buy something from her as repentance for my transgression.


Climbing above the roof-line usually gives me a sense of peace. In this culture that was so exotic for me, seeing the roof tops created more mental chaos. Here I didn’t see pattern nor grasp the function of various aspects of the roof-scape. It is this type of mental chaos that leads to fruitful questions and thinking about cultural differences. I will be sharing more posts of photographs and thoughts (sometimes chaotic) stimulated by my travels through the Cuban culture.

Link to Daily Post.Chaos