HAVANA TIMES – I was nearly done with a dramatic post in which I tore my hair deploring the newest disasters that had befallen Alamar, the decaying neighborhood where I live.
Since the last time that I talked about this suburb, two bus stops have fallen down, a pedestrian bridge (a short cut to the Bacuranao beach) has collapsed and another is ready to go, a huge architectural project was halted (the rumor mill claims that it was to be a mausoleum for the Castros), new sewers have overflowed, the prices of agricultural produces have all risen and the garbage problem got worse.
You would have loved the piece: I know that many of you adore hearing the latest “hot” news from Cuba. But, it was ripped from my hands when, suddenly, things began to get better.
Potatoes appeared in the market, the garbage truck has become as punctual as a Poljot watch, they have paved some streets which were as pitted as the lunar surface, the rushing waters in the drainage ditches returned to their underground streams, one of the collapsed bus stop shelters is about to be re-inaugurated, and, most important of all, they brought in new garbage tanks. Some of these humble advances took place shortly before the April 19th local elections (which makes you wonder) but others came afterwards.
Tremendous joy reigns in the neighborhood. I’m happy too, but I’m also left with a bitter taste in my mouth.
Don’t get me wrong, I hate fireworks. However, I had been thinking that a small blow-up, with garbage as the fuel, might serve to awaken the social conscience. I imagined my barrio in a version of the French May ’68: everyone into the streets, making noise, leaving fear and inertia behind, putting “De Gaulle” on the run, and trying to get organized to find some local consensus for solving our chronic problems.
What a dream! Instead, all of the accumulated tension disappeared overnight thanks to an opportune gift from the gods, who may try your patience but will never let you drown.
Alamar will continue being just another bedroom community in orbit around the center with no faith in ourselves, no identity or pride, ignorant of our power, incapable of administrating the needs and waste products of our own metabolism, dependent on the Great State, the giver of gifts and sharer of oil that tomorrow will be scarce.
Epilogue: Those who were hoping for an outbreak of epidemics and revolts in Alamar (for the morbid pleasure of disasters in faraway places or because they are dreaming of a “Perez-Troica” as a new edition of the Peristroika:) are going to have to wait a while. The era is about to give birth to a new world, but the contractions are still coming and going.
Click on the thumbnails below to view all the photos in this gallery. On your PC or laptop, you can use the directional arrows on the keyboard to move within the gallery. On cell phones use the keys on the screen.