Pinar del Rio
Educational Program


Saturday and Sunday

Rural bicycle ride, CubaThe is no way to get a better feel for a culture than by eliminating the barriers between it and you. The lesson is particularly strong in Cuba on the weekend. The entire roadside, village and town character changes on Saturday and Sunday. Had we been in a bus, or even bicycling on the autopista, we would have missed so much. This drives home that "the mode is the message". If you want a true people-to-people experience the bicycle provides excellent opportunities.
  Street baseball, Pinar del Rio, CubaIt's the weekend so it is fitting that we see a little of the religions of Cuba: Christianity, baseball and rocking chairs. As we passed through towns, the churches were open and the parishioners were filing in and out. In the town squares and sandlots baseballs were being thrown, caught and batted.  
  There was a lot of selling from bikes: garlic, onions, bread  
  Selling produce from a bicycle, Cuba Selling bread from a bicycle, Cuba Selling bread from a bicycle, Cuba Selling produce from a bicycle, Cuba  
  There was a lot of just bicycle riding.  
  Woman bicyclist, Cuba Mother and child bicycliing, Cuba Family bicycling, Cuba Family bicycling, Cuba Man bicycling, Cuba  
  ponchera (puncture fixer, tire repair), Cubaponchera (puncture fixer, tire repair), CubaEastern Pinar del Rio Province has large, populated, flat areas, that aren't common in the north and west of the province. This is likely a key factor in the higher bicycle use to be see here.  The more regular use of bicycles in the area then helps account for the moderate flow of customers to the ponchera (puncture fixer, tire repair). No service cost more than US$0.50.  

Colorful laundry hanging out to dry, CubaWoman doing laundry, CubaAt house after house, it is apparent that Saturday and Sunday are major laundry days. Passing through towns, villages, and the countryside, it is easy to glance down the side yard and see the pattern of people scrubbing, ringing, rinsing, ringing, and hanging the laundry on the line even when the skies look threatening they carried on, and the cloths stayed on the line. The homesteads have an added touch of color and brightness on the weekends.

  Mowing lawn, Cuba Cows hauling water on skids, Cuba bicyclist with goods in a bicycle trailer, Cuba Man leaving market with a tray of fresh eggs, Cuba Group at a store, Cuba  
  Group at a farmers market, CubaPork for sale at the roadside, CubaAnd there were other chores on the list of weekend task; mowing the lawn, hauling water, house maintenance and other work.

Shopping is a significant obligation of the weekend. But the markets look as much like social events as they do retail exercises.

  Blacksmith workshop, CubaHorseshoes, hand-made by blacksmith, CubaBlacksmith working, CubaPassing a house on the road, there was the distinctive clang of a hammer striking steel. With a second look, there was a blacksmith forging away, under the tree behind the house. As we approached, he stopped working and systematically laid out a display of his craftsmanship. We had no horse so I think at least part of the message was the uniformity of each pair of horseshoes. Each pair was nearly identical.  
  Horse and cart, CubaDuring our visit and discussion with the blacksmith, a customer arrived. Their discussion seemed to be as much social, as it was about a blacksmithing job that needed to be done.

Just down the road, men were using the time to visit the barber. In keeping with the tenor of the day it was a social as it was productive (sorry I missed the picture.)

  Boys playing marbles, CubaSeveral people in rocking chairs, CubaGroup of people relaxing on the weekend, CubaIn the middle of a path, some kids were very focused on a game of marbles. It looked like it had been going for a while, I watch for a while, and there was no indication that it was going to end soon.

Others used the free time to visit, or to enjoy the beauty of their garden from the comfort of a rocking chair.

  Pig,  rooting at the road side, Cuba.Goats, grazing on the road side, Cuba.The pigs (left) and goats (right) grazing on the road side probably didn't know that it was the weekend by they exhibited about the same intensity of life.  
  Organic farm, CubaShrine at house, CubaShrine at house, CubaCountless other bits of information, patterns and observations can be acquired just by slowing down: The organic farm with its raised beds, home shrines both in folk art styles and more classical christian, a grape arbor built up and over a roof, a garden that specifically grows vegetables for schools, hospitals and social welfare agencies, an America kestrel observing the landscape from a telephone wire, and so much more.  
 Grape arbor on roof, Cuba Farm producing for schools and social service programs, Cuba American Kestrel (Falco sparverius), Cuba
  Rural road, with bridge, Cuba Rural road, with bridge, CubaRocking the rural roads. It is as beautiful as it looks, and more interesting than is conveyed by the photos. We would have covered one-tenth of the distance every hour, if we had stopped and scrutinized every location of interest.  
  Complejo Gastronomico, CubaPaladar - private restaurant, Cuba

It looked like a slow day at the Complejo Gastronomico (left), but it was late for breakfast and still too early for lunch.

Paladar (private restaurant) (right) with a decor of black and white linens. Excellent meals were $10 per person.

  caged bird, Cubaend pieces of the bird gage are fan-blade guards, CubaA caged bird -- it didn't sing. (I am running out of thinks to say.)

The end pieces of the bird gage to the right are the fan-blade guards. The fan probably broke and the guards were stripped off and repurposed to serve the birds.

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