Animals are regularly part of Cubans’life. They are found everywhere on the streets, in every corner mostly as silent spectators of the life around. Only few are lucky to have a stable home and a roof to sleep. They share the struggle to survive and rely on what they find on the streets. Street animals are so normal that it is easy to just not seen them as you walk along the streets. Sometimes people feed them with whatever left overs they have. Sometime they will need to find their own meal. Dogs, more than cats, impressed me for their expression. Their eyes speak a silent language that go straight to your heart. Every small sign of care or food is enough to trigger their attention. I happen to see daily a small, cute black dog not belonging to any specific breed. He had big eyes and he was always up for a happy greeting and some caresses.
Faith is an important element for many Cubans. Their believes fill their souls with hopes, strength and joy letting them forget the everyday challenge. I visited a Christian church and emotions and vibes were overwhelming. The church itself used to be the living room of a small apartment now completely filled with chairs and believers twice a week. Hands up as a sign of hope, young and old, white and black united under the same roof on the name of God. The pastor was an energetic leader giving you shivers each time he opened his mouth. I witness the baptisms of two young boys whom have decided to accept God in their lives.
Emotions were all over and even my hands were shaking. People gather around the small pool to witness these joyful moments. They all started to sing with their hands up. The pastor started to pray out loud. One of the boys becomes so emotional before being immersed into the pool that he started to cry. The pastor assistant holds him tight with care and comforting him. After he came out of the water a new life started and everyone was crying out “alleluia”.
When you walk around the streets, it looks like that people live locked as prisoners in their own homes. Every door, every window, every home, every balcony is secured behind bars to protect the little they have. For the Cubans is a kind of normal and give a great sense of safety to live behind metals bars. It is so normal that conversation often happen from door to door through the bars. To outsides it feels like to walk through place with a missing sense of freedom and tranquility. In reality, happy faces, music, happy running kids and normal lives happens daily behind the bars. When I was personally behind the bars, life seems to run from another dimension. It feels like a filter between you and the outside. A semi-invisible wall between the safe and the unsafe world where lives go on at different speeds.