Home » Weekend Writing Prompt » Weekend Writing Prompt #227 – Ramshackle Housing

Weekend Writing Prompt #227 – Ramshackle Housing

A word prompt to get your creativity flowing this weekend.  How you use the prompt is up to you.  Write a piece of flash fiction, a poem, a chapter for your novel…anything you like.  Or take the challenge below – there are no prizes – it’s not a competition but rather a fun writing exercise.  If you want to share what you come up with, please leave a link to it in the comments.  I do love the word Ramshackle.  Thank you for hosting, Sammi.  I couldn’t help but think of Cuba.  A place with such welcoming and beautiful people.

wk 227 ramshackle

Wealthy tourists in their country, we couldn’t help but feel how much we were part of the “haves” of society.  How did they keep their smiles?

As our tour guide explained the history, the importance of the cigar industry, the education for one and all, the poverty, the losing of educated people (doctors, especially) to freer countries, I could hear the mixture of pride and anger and love for her country in her voice.

We drove by their ramshackle houses built aside and on top of each other and I wished for them.  Better. More. Choices. Possibilities.

86 thoughts on “Weekend Writing Prompt #227 – Ramshackle Housing

    • Thank you, Jan. I was amazed at the Cuban people – their friendliness, their pride in themselves, despite their poverty. A beautiful culture that I hope is allowed to breathe freely sooner than later.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Excellent piece. It’s sad the conditions people live in a still manage a smile. Here we make a scene if our chicken McNugget order is wrong.

    Thirty years ago when we were doing work for Gadsden, New Mexico, I stood on the border looking into Mexico. Behind me was a new school building and nice residential houses. A young planner from Minnesota was standing next to me. She pointed at the arroyo a few hundred yards south of where we stood and asked “What is all that?” “That’s a shanty town!”, I answered. She looked puzzled: “It looks like old plywood and cardboard boxes?” “That’s exactly what it is!” I answered. Then she gasped and put her hand to her mouth. “Are those people moving around, going in and out of the boxes!” She asked. I told her that her eyes were not deceiving her. People lived in those boxes. With tears in her eyes she asked “But why? How come?” All I could say is that there are really really poor people in Mexico who live in substandard condition like cardboard boxes. However bad she thought poverty in the USA was, it’s unimaginably worse in Mexico. She couldn’t believe it. I think it really burst her idealistic bubble she had from planning school.

    Fortunately, things have improved a lot in Mexico. While there are still really really poor people, if you go down to Gadsden, and El Paso, just south of Gagdsden, you will see a lot of middle class Mexicans who are doing really well going to El Paso to shop and work. Mexico has a lot of issues, like so many countries, but it’s made huge progress over the past 30 years since we stood on the border looking at a shanty town.

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    • Thank you, Tim.

      I have seen various shanty towns in Mexico. It is disheartening. Using old containers and cardboard and piecing it together as best they can. I am rather glad she had her eyes opened, to tell you the truth. Too many people have no idea how others live as they don’t travel at all.

      There is zero crime in Cuba, they go around with a smile and they never beg, unlike places like Dominican Republic where you get harassed constantly (not that I can really blame them).

      I am glad for Mexico and I will be glad for Cuba when something gets done for those good people.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, John. I am so mad with my stupid phone. I had recorded the tour guides words with the intent of writing a proper post in honour of all that she said. When I got back home, my phone died without my having been able to upload!
      She was explaining to us how the Americans came in, built the roads, built so many things and when it all went to hell, left, leaving them with no ressources and over the years, seeing it all start to crumble more and more.
      It’s maddening.
      Seeing the stores the locals are allowed to shop in is discouraging.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Dale,

    It is startling to be faced with such poverty, isn’t it? You wrote this so well and with such conviction, I have nothing to add. Great response to the prompt.

    Shalom and lotsa compassionate hugs,


    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Rochelle,

      It truly is. It sobered my kids, too. I think it’s a good thing to expose them to other cultures and living situations. Widens their eyes to how good they have it.

      Thank you so much, my friend.

      Shalom and lotsa compassionate love,



  3. Q

    Cuba, oh Cuba. It’s a land whose heart has been ripped from it time and again throughout history. They’ve been used so much, and for the longest time by this country, that when Castro came along and began sweet talking the mountain people into a better way of life for all, how could they know it was a bill of goods?

    And so of course you have the here and now, with European investment in the country only able to contribute so much. American investment WOULD revitalize it, for sure. But again, at what cost? Would it simple be more of the same?

    You’ve hit on the desperation felt by these people. So sad.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved this post Dale, so reminiscent of too many areas around the world. When I first went to Bahrain I was shocked to see housing made of wooden boxes and crates and palm leaves. Large families spent their entire lives in such poor accommodation whilst a hundred yards away there were luxury apartments, hotels, restaurants etc for the “haves”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Peter. I have seen similar in areas of Mexico as well as other places. So sad. And like you said, when right next door are the places they can never dream of going into,

      Liked by 1 person

  5. So true, and told so well in choice words, I particularly liked the last stanza. The loss of educated people to already privileged countries I always find so sad and yet it will continue to happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good shtufffs!

    I rather like ‘ramshackle’. Good people live amidst ramshackle. You should or must, go inside to get their perspective. I have travelled all over Cuba; North, South, East and West. Once you have met the people, it is hard, at least for me to use ‘ramshackle’. I only see beauty even in the decay. Some of my most poignant images and writings have come from Cuba, but you would not know it. Life is hard and good in the same breath. Cuba is a profound place, politics aside.

    This reminds me of Cuba for some reason https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8NPNKZ9jB0 it’s this fuck’n sun it is evil as one Cubian told me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Glad you think so.

      Ramshackle is a great word. And you’re right. Once you meet the people, you only see the beauty they are. I wish I could read your oignant writings. Life is hard and good. It is a beautiful place and the people deserve better.

      And I LOVE Eddy Vedder. Hah! I love that. “It’s this fuck’n sun. It is evil…”

      Liked by 1 person

  7. That touched me this morning. Simple, sad truth. Going through this move has helped me realize how I do not need any more, and desperately need to divest. Hopefully, others will find them useful.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That’s a beautiful piece, Dale. I have noticed that mostly good and kind people live in ramshackles, people -like you say- with big, hearty smiles. Makes me wonder how many of the things we have really make us happy. In reality, watching the sun rise, smelling the salty sea breeze, a smile or a hug from a loved one… are the true haves to have.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Marina. It is usually those how have the least who have the biggest hearts and are the most generous. I would love to see their grocery stores stocked with more than one kind of soap, dishsoap, shampoo…
      And yes. Lots of our stuff is just that. Stuff.


      • It’s a very big discussion but I always believed that if our governments really cared for us, they’d provide our basic needs in excellent quality, one of each kind. One brilliant car (in different colors), one shampoo (one for each type), etc Having all those choices, to me are waste of money, energy and in the end, it’s only the packaging that differs. If not so, you have stuff for the rich and stuff for the poor. Utopic thinking, I know but…

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for telling about your trip. I went to Cuba during the first two or three years after Obama first made it possible for US tourists to enter the country. We went with Road Scholar who connected us with Cubans in many settings. I loved the fire and humor of so many who lived in poverty but who had done so much to keep the basic humanity of the people. I wrote a series of posts on my blog called Cuba 2012 Love Songs Written on My Heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Ina. Weirdly, I never go around to writing my posts right after the trip. I had recorded, with my phone, the tour guides fantabulous explanations and everything. When I got home, within a week, my phone died, having been mysteriously infected with water. Of course, nothing had been uploaded yet 😦
      I am so glad you got a chance to visit! They are a beautiful people.


  10. Love your images accompanying this writing challenge. Ramshackle…a word I can most definitely identify with these days. As I sit at my desk, I look around and start to twitch at all the ‘stuff’ on the surface. Guess I’ll be spring cleaning again soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Monika. When I read the wod prompt, I started going through my photos. I found an old abandoned building from up north but felt that the Cuban village more represented what I wanted to convey.

      My whole house makes me twitch, right now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • What ever happened to the good elves that helped clean stuff up?

        Personally I prefer those really representative images when traveling. They add so much to the narrative. Too often we glamorize our travels. It’s always good to have a reality check.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Those little shits up and left me!

          I do, too. I am just so bummed that my phone died before I was able to transfer the recording from our fantastic tour guide – she told us so many things. Most of it is now lost somewhere in my head, having not had time to jot it down in time.

          Liked by 1 person

    • I was looking for something and landed on this post and gasp! How could I have not responded? It’s almost a full year ago but hey, I do thank you for your efforts, Keith 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Sadness. Well told, Dale.

    I recently took a wrong turn and found myself in the midst of a large homeless camp in Austin, Texas. It was depressing and frightening. I recall no smiles. Just empty, unfriendly stares.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks for sharing. When I visited Lima and saw how the people lived in huts on the hill I was shocked. But the people were so happy! I thought what I think is their poverty they see as living gratefully. Since my trip in 2014 I’ve been a practicing minimalist. I rather have a happy grateful life than things.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. A heartbreaking write, Dale! Yet, it’s all too true!
    This is why I don’t travel to poor countries anymore. I know they need the tourism $$$, but my heart can’t take it.
    When I was young, I went to S. America. I lost my passport & everything (stolen in Peru). It was months until I could get back to Canada. I wore a skirt made out of a flour sack, and a kind of a bonnet made out of… another flour sack. The hat was to prevent lice, which was a rampant norm. I had a good taste of their poverty, but I got to leave, and come back to Canada.

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