A Sunday Walk

By Irina Echarry

I loved to see my parents and friends straining to knock the ball in some little hole.
I loved to see my parents and friends straining to knock the ball in some little hole.

Sundays are days when boredom clutches the community. Alamar is known as the “bedroom,” that is to say, a place where you go only to sleep, since few opportunities for recreation exist.

When it was small, I hardly noticed the situation, but as I grew up, I came to understand that to have any social life you had to leave.

Of course when I was small I had other interests and sources of fun. Recently I decided to walk a little and came upon a special childhood place: the local miniature golf course.

Almost every Sunday morning we would play that game. I loved to see my parents and friends straining to knock the ball in some little hole.

The site is located between the outlet of the Cojímar River and the Alamar coast.  On one side is the sea, sometimes violent, and on the other meanders the passive river. Everything is surrounded by tall casuarina (she-oak) trees, which provide shade and caress the sun as the air moves them.

The Cojimar River, still calm, hopes its romantic little boat will return some day.
The Cojimar River, still calm, hopes its romantic little boat will return some day.

It was total happiness. We played, swam in the sea, and then crossed the river in a rowboat to enter Cojímar, the fishing village closest to Alamar. The shuttle gave an air of romanticism to the trip.

I always imagined that I would travel for hours and, once coming ashore, would discover a great variety of landscapes; or that if the boat sunk, I would learn the secrets of the river. However, it was only for moments, the trip lasted just a few minutes. This was fortunate though, because I never did learn how to swim, and I don’t know what I’d have done had the shuttle turned over.

Once in Cojímar, the short seawall was where my parents would rest, while my brother ran from one place to another non-stop, and I contemplated the sea. It was sometimes blue, other times greenish; I was always preoccupied with the sea.

La Terraza Restaurant, a favorite of Ernest Hemingway.
La Terraza Restaurant, a favorite of Ernest Hemingway.

The boats that I’d seen leave from the cove looked tiny in the distance. I met several fishermen through my father, an avid journalist and lover of the lives of common men and women.

My brother, in his position of oldest, made fun of my innocence when he pondered before me, “If we’re tired, and we’ve only been in the water for two hours, imagine how the poor fish-who never leave the sea-must be.”

At lunchtime we found the La Terraza Restaurant, visited by Hemingway in his time. It was decorated with stuffed swordfish, fish tanks set into the wall, and fishing nets. At certain tables you felt as if you were eating on the sea. The menu: fish and shellfish, of course.

Later we returned on the boat back to the miniature gold course, and from there we walked home. Those were special Sundays. Luckily I have a good memory.

The shuttle boat was substituted by an iron bridge so that bicycles could cross.
The shuttle boat was substituted by an iron bridge so that bicycles could cross.

During the economic crisis of the early 1990s (known as the Special Period), the shuttle boat was substituted by an iron bridge so that bicycles could cross. Public transportation had disappeared, so most people went to work, school, or wherever by bike.

The old Terraza began to offer its dishes in dollars, a currency that many people didn’t have access to, and those who did were scared off by the prices.

Nonetheless, the miniature gold course remains, and people continue to play, though now not everyone has a good time like before. Many play for money.

In any case, the herons still wait for sunset to sleep in the tall she-oaks, and one or another pair of pelicans flies about over the sea during the day. The river, still calm, hopes its romantic little boat will return some day.

Irina Echarry

Irina Echarry: I enjoy reading, going to the movies and spending time with my friends. Many of the people I love are dead, or are no longer in Cuba. I will do my best to transmit my thoughts, ideas or worries via these pages so you can get to know me. I will give an idea of my age, since it helps explain certain things. I’m over thirty-five, and I think that’s enough information. I don’t have any children yet, or nieces or nephews. There are days when I transform myself into a child with no age at all in order to see life from another angle. It helps me break the monotony and survive in this strange world.



5 thoughts on “A Sunday Walk

  • HELLO IRINA
    Seems that my words are now getting posted.
    I really enjoyed your article on Cojimar. When researching my plays, I did a photo shoot there with S. Crutzman, ate paella in La Terraza with some

    Reply
  • Arrgghhhhhh! Computers…

    Met Gregorio Fuentes before he passed away, met several fisherman but most of all enjoyed the serenity of the harbour from the Hemingway memorial.
    I did a show for the Consul General of Cuba, Jorge Soberon, in Canada and he told me that I captured the spirit of Hemingway and Cuba.
    As a Free Canadian Theatre Company, I offer you a complimentary show.
    Hope this posting get through.
    My very best
    briangordonsinclair.com

    Reply
  • The same issue keeps coming up again and again here on this website: people in Cuba in many places do not have public spaces in which to meet and relax and eat and enjoy entertainment, etc. I know that resources are limited on the island; but public spaces should be a much higher priority than they are (along with food and clothing and housing and transportation, of course). Even throwing up a cheap building where people can spend time away from home is better than always having only the street or the house or the apartment to hang around in. Every one of such new public places should have a large cafeteria with a patio too, for instance, where people can meet regularly, and discuss things all they want. Or play dominoes or cards or whatever. Live entertainment should be brought in on at least the weekends. Community meetings would be held in these places during the week. Etc.

    There really should be a crash program to construct such community centers thruout the island (among other things). Too bad you don’t have any cement in Cuba, eh? Heck — even setting up tents would be better than nothing. It’s the organizing of things that makes the difference — even more than the material available. A shame that enthusiasm for the Revolution in waning, due to decades of shortages. There really has to be more community initiative taken in these matters — and less waiting on the (no doubt overwhelmed) central authority.

    Reply
  • Hola, amiga…FELIZ CUMPLEAÑOS!!!! que Dios te bendiga y te conceda todas las cosa buenas que quieras realizar…mucha salud, muchos exitos….muchos besos cariñosos con todo el amor del mundo para ti y que tu dia sea muy felizzz…para que podamos seguir celebrando…mas cumplesiiiigloooosssss….jajajaa

    Reply

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