Las Manos

A series of photos and short stories from a trip to Cuba.

The Barber

His hands fumble as he tries  to place them in a suitable position. Although used on a daily basis with such accuracy and precision, they are  suddenly out of their comfort zone.  He laughs  as I try  to communicate with words that I don't have, but tries to follow as best he can. His fingers,  once  youthful and free, working through strand upon  strand, are  now ridged and aged, uncomfortable in their idleness. It is  over in seconds, and once  relieved of their burden, they  lose the  awkward and unsteady appearance. Their enthusiasm slowly  returns  as they resume normal service.

Petit Corona

She rests in  the shade, the afternoon heat  proving too much for those layers of colour.  Not used to being photographed alone,  her face fills with uncertainty. She proceeds  as normal, lifting  the cigar to her mouth and perching  her hand on her hip. Attempting  to smile, she  falters, only  revealing her few remaining teeth.  Her voice, once  upbeat and cheery, is quietly considering the task at hand.  Her eyes, although peering  at the camera, are  detached  and distracted. I hand her some money and turn  to walk away.  The lost  smile finally breaks free as she whispers: "Gracias, mi vida."

Cobbler

Focussing hard on the task at hand, he's oblivious to the world around him. People brush past  and cars drive by, but  the ongoing  activity does not disturb him.  He doesn't lift his head, concentrating to  ensure that  every stroke is perfect. He glances in my direction  as  I ask to take his picture, lifting his shoulders ever so slightly, somewhat reluctant to acknowledge his work. Without saying a word, he lowers his hand to reveal  the frail sandal,  granting me permission. We proceed with our endeavours  silently.  No words are needed. His hand closes, and he briefly glances up once more as I express my gratitude. The smile that erupts ends the conversation perfectly.

Entrepreneur

Bunches of bananas dangle from the fence, while  her arms are  laden with treats to sell. She's well prepared for our late morning  arrival.  Others serve coffee, while she does the selling. It's a well organised system.  Hunger and curiosity find you picking up something,  her  perseverance  finds you  purchasing one of  everything she has to offer.  Quietly confident, she has no fear of the language barrier  as she explains everything she has to offer.  I catch a glimpse of her insecurities as my camera and  I approach. They quickly disappear as I ask her to extend  her hands. It's business as usual while I take pictures.  If it's good  enough for me  to photograph, it must be good enough to eat.

El Torcedor

Tourists  crowd around, eager to see him at work. He doesn't seem fazed by the flashes or noise. He continues to roll,  going  from leaf   to leaf without hesitation, the smile never leaving  his face. He takes great pride in his work, displaying his cigars around him. He enthusiastically responds to any questions and  his smile grows as people stop to read the frames on the wall. The reason they are all here to see him now. He follows their  gaze as they look up to his handiwork,  before returning to concentrate  on the cigar at hand.

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