String Valuable and Zealously Guarded: Flying Fighters With the Children of Havana

Ben Ruhe
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Will Tefft, 44, of Santa Barbara, California, travels the world as a representative of a map company. He organizes mapping crews and purchases maps for resale.

As a convert to kites years ago and fighters in particular, he always carries some small Indian fighters with him. He has happily flown at such disparate locales as Tiananmen Square in Beijing, where hundreds of people had kites up when he was there, and in Uzbekistan, where children only---no adults----flew odd circular kites.

On a trip to Cuba a while back, he saw some boys aged 9 to 12 flying six-sided, almost rectangular Papelote fighters in the old section of Havana. “After some palaver,” he reports, “they led me through what turned out to be the worst slum in the city. I was told later I could easily have been killed for the clothes on my back. Ah well! Anything for kites.

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