Photographers' Blog

Fidel and Miss Green, till death do they part

Sagua La Grande, Cuba

By Desmond Boylan

I know a Cuban man named Fidel who is tall, well-built and hardworking. He is known to have had several wives and many girlfriends during his life, and now has a pregnant daughter who will soon make him a grandfather, but those details of his life are diffuse. What he does admit is that the undisputed love of his life is Señorita Verde, or Miss Green.

Fidel gets on well with his neighbors, likes telling jokes, and is always in a good mood. At times he looks a bit nostalgic or sad as his house badly needs repair, and he worries the whole house will fall down on him and Miss Green during the heavy rains and strong winds of the new hurricane season.

People have offered to buy Miss Green from him so he can repair his crumbling 100-year-old wooden house, but he remains defiant. “I will never sell Miss Green. Just the idea of selling her makes me shiver,” he said. “People have no feelings.”

Miss Green is Fidel’s 1952 green Chevy, parked in his living room for the last 23 years.

Fidel, now 53 years old, bought the car in 1990 when the Cuban economy was heavily dependent on the USSR. The Berlin Wall had fallen a few months before and little did he know what would happen next – the Soviet Union disintegrated and as a consequence, Cuba plunged into the “special period,” a ten-year era of extreme lack of everything. Life for Cubans became a real struggle, but even so Fidel never budged when potential buyers would make an offer.

Transformer, Cuban style

By Desmond Boylan

“I am 70-years-old and I still feel strong, but legally I can’t work as a taxi driver because of my age,” Gilberto Ruiz told me the first time I met him. I had asked him about his pickup truck, a Ford, obviously pre-Revolution, with a shape I’d never seen.

He continued, “One day I suddenly had an idea. I’ll cut up my 1948 Ford Deluxe Sedan and weld it into a van and work the private transport business.”

My first thought was, “Wow, this man has imagination.” I immediately liked him and tried to get to know him better. I started to document his activity through pictures.

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