02 February 2009
Cuba Today: The Havana Fishermen
If you are staying in Havana, then you really can't miss the fishermen on their rickety rafts who go out every evening at dusk.
They are built out of the packing foam that every electrical appliance that you buy these days comes with. If you take enough of it and then glue it all together you can create a raft.
Every evening at dusk, dozens of these guys grab their rafts from wherever they have been stored during the day and leg it across the main road that separates Havana's promenade from the buildings opposite. They have to move quickly as they do not have the all important licence or permit, without which nothing in Latin-America happens. Well, doesn't happen legally that is - this is Latin-America after all.
Lying flat on their stomachs with their feet in the water, they then paddle out about half a mile, before casting their lines out and spending the whole night fishing. Just before dawn they return with their catch.
Most rafts carry an ice-box which is half filled with sea water and is used to keep the catch alive until it is either sold or goes to fill the stomachs of the fishermen's families.
One of these young men told me that he goes out about once a week and earns enough to ensure that he doesn't have to bother about doing anything else for the rest of that week. He sells most of his catch to the paladeras, the privately owned restaurants that dot Havana, and the rest goes to make fish stews for him and his family.
As earning a buttie goes I can think of worse ways of making one.