This is a photograph of sugar cane fields south of Lake Okeechobee, with a processing plant in the distance, that I took on a motorcycle ride last year in May. The cane fields are burned every year to clear out debris (and unhappily the wild animals that live in it). Then the ash filled fields are cut usually by hand with men, Jamaicans normally in South Florida, armed with machetes. It is grueling work exacerbated by the ash clogged debris from the burning. Big Sugar is a disastrous environmental industry supported rather quaintly by a multi billion dollar subsidy from the federal Government, but as nothing compared to the banksters and re-insurance mobsters these days.
As a result the skies sometimes get hazy and the wood fire smell permeates the islands and we have to rouse the fire department at all hours to go out and look for flames, because one can never take the risk of ignoring a potential fire. One day I'd like to ride the Cuban cane fields and see how they burn theirs. The smell of smoke, not of cigars this time, is a geographic reminder of how close and how far we are from Cuba.