Jesus is a carpenter in Cuba.

Last time I visited Cuba I was impressed by the resilience of the cuban people. Everyone there has a way to make money outside of  the government boundaries.  My friend Alberto taught himself how to make pizza, Vladimir sells hand crafted goods to tourists, and  Robertico (an old communist leader) sells peanut nougats and other sweets.

The underground cuban economy runs as a capitalist society buying, selling, dealing, and trading goods  to cubans and tourist to consume.

People learn new tricks and new trades and improvise in the most creative ways.  My uncle Jesus  became a carpenter and makes wood chairs, hammocks, entertaining systems, cabinets, and any other requests his customers may have.

What is very impressive is that my uncle also builts the equipment he uses at his modest shop in a small town in Cuba called Alacranes, Matanzas.  Alacranes is located about 100 miles east of Habana, Cuba and is the town where I grew up.

I visited him last year in December and I was most impressed.  I was standing in his improvised shop with wood scraps, rudimentary tools made of old an machete, a fan, and  pieces of iron.  His shop is one of a kind.  He does what he has to do to survive in a Cuba without many resources.

I often wonder what he would do if he lived in the United States?  Probably be a millionaire, he is a problem solver and makes things happen.  I believe he did not go past the 8th grade in school but that never stopped him from learning.  He is the one that made the boat that I came to this country in 16 years ago from a photograph, can you believe it!

Jesus has always been the kind of naturally smart guy that can pretty much do anything he puts his mind to. When I visited his house I felt so proud to see his work skills and his workshop.

In a land without Home Depot or Lowes if you need a table saw you make it yourself.

My uncle had put together a funtional money producing workshop with old motors, pieces of metals, and old tools he either found laying around or bought from neighbors.  He not only does woodwork,  he also makes the tools he needs to work with.

He made me two chairs, a kid’s hammock, and two keys hangers.  I wasn’t sure if I would be able to bring them into the United States,  but I tried anyways. To my surprise I was able to get them on the plane and I brought them to Miami.

Below you can see my uncle, his workshop pictures, and pictures of the items he made for me.

Next time you visit a home improvement store think how lucky you are to find all the tools and supplies you need.  If there is ever a time you can’t find something at the store to carry on a project please remember my uncle Jesus  in his day to day strugles  to get his work done.


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About Alexis M.

Alexis Martin has more than 12 years of experience in the Guayabera Shirt business. In December 18 2002 Alexis founded an internet store for selling Cuban memorabilia from the pre-Castro era, customers began to inquire about the guayabera shirts and a new business concept was born. became a manufacturer and supplier of guayabera shirts online. Google+

17 Responses to “Jesus is a carpenter in Cuba.”

  1. Zarp3 June 30, 2011 at 9:09 pm # Reply

    Que lindo.  I hope that the economic changes underway in Cuba, small as they may be, will help others like your uncle.

  2. Dave June 30, 2011 at 10:21 pm # Reply

    God bless him.

  3. Dave Pinhey June 30, 2011 at 10:35 pm # Reply

    I hope you left him a few Yankee dollars to help him out with bargaining or buying.  We  hear of these things but seldom get the chance to ask;  May I ?  What did it cost to go on that Uncle-made boat to get you to Florida ? The boat people who have been landing on Canadian shores this last year….there’s all sorts of rumours about $10, 000, $30,ooo, $50.000 just to get on board.  These are people coming from Asia;  some have been shipped back to their original country—bad reputations !!  I think our Canadian “authorities”are welcoming, but thorough in their investigations.  We certainly don’t need any more crooks or gangsters.  We have our own !!!   
    Adios to you and Uncle (Hay-soos) Jesus     Dave

    • Anonymous June 30, 2011 at 10:54 pm # Reply

      Hi dave,

      I certantly didn’t have yo pay anything to him. And I do agree the US and Canada should deny entry to criminals to their country. I took a high quality wood router to him with a full set of bits, he was as happy as a Kid with a new toy.

      • Carlitasway July 1, 2011 at 12:37 pm # Reply

        Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I am of the school of thought that we are all beings that are supposed to connect, so that together the world can change. One word at a time. One post at a time. One photo at a time.

  4. Rufusnewland June 30, 2011 at 10:46 pm # Reply

    Great work.  Keep the faith and someday Cuba will be free once again.

    • Alexis M. June 30, 2011 at 6:27 pm # Reply

      Yes that is what we all hope for!

  5. CarlosA July 1, 2011 at 1:04 am # Reply

    Alexis, If your uncle come to the U.S. I hope to buy one of his lunge chairs. It looks like a mix between Carieban and Scandinavian design. Saludos desde Albuquerque, NM

  6. Camalave51 July 1, 2011 at 1:01 pm # Reply

    What a beauty and talent, people like you uncle without any training, those are the best, because practice,make it perfect.  God Bless your Uncle.

    • Alexis M. July 1, 2011 at 8:39 am # Reply

      Thank you! I’m very proud of him.

  7. Becky July 1, 2011 at 4:57 pm # Reply

    Alexis, I love your stories. Thanks for sending them. Your uncle’s chairs are works of art! Will you be selling them on your website? I absolutely love the lounge chair. Blessings to you and your uncle from Becky in Sacramento, CA.

  8. Wallace Turnbull August 19, 2011 at 9:38 pm # Reply

    Hi ! We play with Cuban dominoes that my granddaughter and her husband brought from Cuba, in ‘Old Havana’  , their Cuban sandwich shop on Main Strret in Durham, North Carolina !

    Grampa Wallace

  9. Toby Madison August 21, 2011 at 7:06 am # Reply

    Un comentario fantastico!  I have forwarded your blog to several Cuban-American friends and to others who have visited Cuba.  Your uncle’s work is terrific.  The political situation in Cuba seems to now be changing little by little.  One can only hope!! 
    Regards,  Toby Madison

  10. Barbara O September 25, 2011 at 11:37 am # Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this with me.  My father is Cuban and I hope one day I will be able to visit the country he was raised in.  It really is amazing how with little means people can be resourceful and create beautiful things at little cost to the environment.  I saw a documentary on PBS on how well preserved natural habitats are in Cuba.  The love and passion people have for their trade shows in their work.

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