HAVANA (Reuters) – Flora Villareal, 67, part of a cohort of Cubans who graduated from an experimental piano tuning program for the blind and visually impaired in 1970, is still plying her trade half a century later.
But this year has been hard because of the pandemic. She usually works for Havana’s recording studios and performance venues, which had to close down for many months during Cuba’s coronavirus lockdown.
“It’s been very difficult because there’s virtually been no work,” said Villareal, a wiry woman with silver shoulder-length hair who uses a white walking stick. “And I’ve also had to look after myself because you never know where there’s coronavirus.”
Born into a family with a genetic predisposition toward visual impairment, only one of her three siblings still lives. She has a son and granddaughter in the city of Matanzas, about 62 miles (100 km) east of Havana, and visits there once a year.