El cultivador de tabaco (The Tobacco Farmer)

El cultivador de tabaco (The Tobacco Farmer)

Cuba Series - Painting #10
June 2016
Acrylic on canvas - 36" x 48" 

There aren't many jobs as life consuming as that of a farmer; especially a farmer in a 3rd world caribbean nation. That difficulty was on full display when I visited the tobacco region of Vińales in Cubas western most provence. 

I spent an entire day walking the vast,  green farm lands that blanket the landscape in neat patches, dotted by the occasional wooden drying hut. The tobacco fields are nestled in a valley of ancient mountains that stud the countryside and resemble 40 story green haystacks. It's a majestic sight.

As I walked I saw the farmers working the crops, sweating in the tropic sun, their skin a leathery red. They all wore tan, heavy cotton long sleeve work shirts and had straw hats on their heads. I saw no signs of modern day equipment. Most were collecting tobacco leaves by hand or plowing the earth using oxen. It's a sobering thought considering the high price Cuban cigars fetch. Obviously the moneys not flowing directly to these workers.

My biggest surprise was seeing the flowers that bloom out from the tobacco plants stalks. The long white bulbs are tipped with a pale shade of pink along their edge. I hadn't known that was a feature of the plant. It gave an unexpected flair of femininity to this plant which holds such a distinctive air of masculinity in its uses.
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