Now that it is April we can relish the fact that its mango season. However, we don’t get our mangos from the shop or the market… no, now we get them in darkness in the bushes.


Welcome to Cuba, communist land where no man owns what he works for. Here we do not buy fruit for money but are solicited by village locals, questioned as to what we may need or want, and are met with said objects at moonlit rendevous among the trees or by fishing boat once the sun has set. In exchange, we are asked for old t-shirts, shoes or caps, empty bottles or anything we have that may be broken.


Josephina is a ‘pescadora’ – a fisherwoman – in Marea del Portillo. The boat she fishes in daily is also part of her ongoing favour to ‘la guarda’ – the boat officials – as she rows them out, in their uniformed splendour, to each new boat that comes to anchor here. However, her loyalties lie with the people of her village. She welcomes us into her home, making gorgeously strong coffee, offering us fresh peppers, tomatoes and onions while her neighbour fetches us some bread, fruit and cheese. Josephina keeps chickens, pigs, goats, dogs and a horse; some are pets and some are for food. Her house is a mansion compared to some here with no electricity, water or even four walls.


But, the people here are not hungry; with plentiful fish, abundant vegetables, tame livestock and seasonal fruits they are all well fed and healthy-looking. Yet, they live on a pittance and crave new clothes, western clothes, which would amount to several months’ wages for one simple top. So this new shopping works well as we’re realising that we seem to wear about 2% of the clothing we brought with us and have more than enough to spare.