HAVANA TIMES – Wearing rubber boots and a hat to protect him from the sun, Cuban Olympic champion Dayron Robles enjoys his time in social isolation in the middle of a recently planted furrow or collecting his harvest.
“It’s a personal dream of mine, I’ve always wanted to have the countryside in my life, to put productive chains in my life,” he says.
While people are trying to find creative ways to spend this time of forced distancing because of COVID-19, the former track and field athlete has taken to a striking way to spend this time, especially for those who never associated this famous athlete with the hard labor of farming.
But this isn’t a last-minute fix, or something he has turned to out of desperation. Working the land is a regular activity for Robles. He often shares videos or photos on his social media of him in the middle of farming, or collecting the fruits of his labor, although there are special factors to take into account this time.
“Did you think that we had stopped working in the fields?!!! No, we continue the struggle, to plant, to harvest… If only we can see each other again once this all blows over, but for that to happen #StayAtHome,” he posted on Facebook.
“Of course, we are here because of COVID-19. As part of the global #StayAtHome campaign, we have also done the right thing and we are doing it well, calling on anyone who has a little plot of land to make the most of it and give to neighbors, friends, or sell to other locals, because we are going to need it,” he says.
However, the Olympic champion isn’t alone: his family keeps him company, as part of a special and productive quarantine during this time.
“My family and I have this possibility and we work it quite frequently in our normal lives: being here, trying to grow our vegetable allotment here and make use of the products that the earth gives us,” he explains.
After his successful career as an athlete, setting a world record, and winning Olympic glory in the 110 meters hurdles in Beijing 2008, Robles has taken up another path as a husband and father.
“Being a father of the family is my main job, which is the most important thing in my life. It makes me feel great and it’s the most important compliment to my individual happiness,” he said a few months ago.
Outside of active sports, the former athlete has also become an entrepreneur and opened restaurant La Escondida Habana, (The hidden Havana) as well as setting up an Airbnb Experience. This also is connected to his ties to the countryside.
“It also has a direct impact on our business, on what we do? From the vegetable patch to the dinner table is something that works across the world and we have also tried to normalize this practice.”
Robles normally spends quite a bit of time on his farmwork, because it’s more than just a hobby for him, he really enjoys every step in the process.
“I love the work involved: plowing the land, planting seeds, watering, looking after the seeds, watching them sprout. The fruit that everyone likes, but this part of the sacrifice, which applies to every aspect of our lives, is interesting because after you make a sacrifice to do something, when you see the result of your work, the success is twice as great and you enjoy it so much more,” he says.
From his retreat in this time of COVID-19, he has joined the international campaign that tells people to stay at home and avoid contact.
“The fundamental thing is that people understand how necessary it is to stay at home, and that, social distancing is our weapon to fight this war. That is why I urge everyone who values their life, and the lives of others, who love and like to be loved, to stay at home, to enjoy this time and find something else to do.”