Having just returned from Cuba, I couldn’t wait to post some of my findings.
Cuba has been the site of many a battle. They are a war weary nation. Because of their immense riches, resources and beauty people have tried to claim it for their own since the beginning of time. Because the Soviet Union had great timing in helping to rescue them from a ruthless and cruel dictator, and they shared political philosophies with Fidel Castro, we, the USA, found ourselves in opposition. There…what should be a 2 year course in Cuban history summed up in one paragraph.
The end result is the worst possible imagined..no access to sewing machines or fabric!!
The women of Cuba were welcoming and charming. They were all too anxious to show me their sewing machines. They were gracious and inviting. Many of them said that they were thrilled to see the Americans finally able to visit.
I was moved by the poor conditions in which they had to sew. But, like any woman they found a way. One of the most amazing things that I love about sewing and quilting is that every woman on the planet seems to want to find a way to express her creativity, and so many women use sewing and fabric to convey this. But it is not women alone. Many men are sewing now too, and always have.
The Cubans have electricity, but there are times of brown outs when air conditioners are being used. Many of the women sew with treadle machines. My husband thought that perhaps it was because of the brown outs. I thought that it was because they had no other choice. New machines were not an option.
As I was passing by a house, I saw this woman sewing. She invited me in. I asked her what she liked to sew.
She told me that she liked to sew garments. She had a pile of mending on the side, the worst possible kind of sewing. I love to sew, but if anyone asks me– I don’t mend. My husband will take a coat with no buttons to the cleaner because I have left it to languish in a mending pile. Anyway, I digress.
Here she is again.
And, here’s a closer look at her other machine. She had 2 sewing machines in the small front room of her house.
The houses look much like the houses in New Orleans. If you have ever been there, Cuba, due to the Spanish influence, looks much like New Orleans and other Caribbean countries.
As I was walking down the street, I looked into another window and there was a man sitting at a sewing machine! I asked him what he was sewing and he showed me a worn out window drape. It was old and faded. It didn’t even look like something that I would salvage. He told me that he was recycling it. He didn’t exactly say what for.
All of the Cuban people are very highly educated. They have free college tuition. Their medical schools are top notch. But, the down side is that there is not much industry for these people to apply their skills. I am hoping and praying that things turn around for them. The man that was sewing actually had a PhD in physics. They’re very friendly and very happy to tell you about their lives. Most of them seemed happy.
The other thing that impressed me was how clean the streets and houses were. Because it’s a socialist society, everyone is promised a job through the government. Clearly that has a great deal of down sides to it, but the up side is that the streets and houses and bathrooms are very clean. Unlike Mexico, the bathrooms may be old but they are not dirty. The bathrooms in Mexico were atrocious.
I have this need to find used sewing machines in this country and get the fixed up and sent to Cuba. I did make a few contacts there where I could send them. But, I am not ready yet to send them, so if you’re reading this, just keep it in mind but don’t drop old machines at the shop just yet!
More on the Cuban trip later.