By Irina Echarry
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.
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.
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.
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.