Malecon: The View Froze Me

Francisco Rafael Castro Cariacedo
Francisco Rafael Castro Cariacedo

Cuba in all its multifaceted dimensions. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Actually, I think it would be more appropriate to study and describe the root causes that give rise to displays like the one I witnessed that afternoon as I waited for my appointment with Radio Metropolitana.

I was still trying to digest that scene of the women with the jolongo chanting prayers when a young man came to a stop on his bicycle in the midst of a group of junior high school girls who were sitting next to me.

The girls were having fun, singing the latest hit songs, lost in their own world. The young man, leaning against the wall with his bike parked in front of him, took out a cigarette and lit it.

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Havana Malecon seawall, archive photo by Bill Hackwell

I was suddenly aware that the sun was burning the skin on my face, which I hadn’t noticed earlier due to the constant salty sea breeze blowing off the Caribbean Sea. But I wasn’t ready to leave yet.

I took out a book and tried to start reading when I noticed that the young guy with the bicycle was now standing facing the seawall looking at the group of girls and me, blowing cigarette smoke out of his mouth and masturbating frenetically.

The view froze me. It was around two o’clock in the afternoon and despite the violent sun, several people were walking by. The giggling girls were still singing and a guy came up to offer me a box of cigars. Flustered, I told him that I didn’t smoke, and he carried on, hiding the cedar box in a dirty bag.

I looked back towards the young guy with the bicycle but he was no longer there. Along the seawall, several gooey white spots reflected the intense sunlight.