First Day of 2023

By Irina Pino

HAVANA TIMES – Last night, December 31st, I went to bed after the traditional throwing a bucket of water off the balcony, wishing for all the bad things that had happened in this year to go away.

We shouldn’t feel sorry for ourselves, we’re still here, Magaly told me – a friend from my teenage years who used to live in my neighborhood, and we’d gotten back in touch on Facebook not too long ago. She left the country in the 1980s and is now living in Sweden.

She sent me photos of the city lit up in Christmas lights, and I told her that things here are the exact opposite, streets are pitch-black here at night.

She spoke of memories, homes, and people I’d forgotten. She associated the postcards I sent her back to those innocent years of our life in the neighborhood. The reality is nobody is left really, everyone is scattered across different countries.

The majority of my Havana Times friends and colleagues have emigrated. Michel and Yusimi are now in Spain. Alfredo crossed the jungle, then the Mexican border and reached the US. My namesake Irina is finally reunited with Erasmo, a journalist who became a truck driver. They are now traveling new lands together, it’s an experience that will make them grow.

Today, I woke up early, at 7:30 AM and began to walk along La Puntilla beach, watching the birds resting on the rocks, others that were flying, a kite that appeared amid the vegetation. The landscape was pure, there was a warm sun, and the sea was calm, without any waves really.

Nature is also grateful for a new year, as if it were predicting good things coming to give us hope, reuniting us with family, distant friends, which we need and we feel empty without.

The truth is that we can make changes, help each other to support this harsh life between all of us. Every day, we realize that there are people who make a difference; some pick animals off the street and give them a home, we meet those we desperately need, the kind of people who feed and soothe our souls, there are artists who make everlasting pieces of work; and even a simple street cleaner is important. We all form a circle, and we need each other.

What will I do this year? I still don’t know the answer to that question. I’ll see what comes to me as the days pass by.

Read more from the diary of Irina Pino

Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

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