Kabir Vega Castellanos
HAVANA TIMES — A few days ago, a small shopping trip became a bitter walk.
Traveling on a P11 city bus, a dog got on at one of the stops in Alamar. Without the driver realizing, the animal ran up and down the vehicle twice as if she were looking for somebody. You could see that she had been sterilized, she was healthy, soft, she looked well-fed and had shiny fur. However, the bus pulled away and its owner didn’t appear.
I happened to be traveling with a friend, who became extremely distressed thinking that the dog had accompanied her owner to the stop like some do, who then frighten off the animal just as they’re getting onto the bus. With that in mind, we got off at the next stop with the dog. She followed us very obediently, and we walked back hoping that that she would give signs of knowing the surroundings.
We asked more than one person in the area but nobody knew who she was. The new outlook and our complete helplessness made us disheartened. Neither of us could even put her up for a little while hoping to find a possible owner, and although it was strange, because of her appearance, there was also the possibility that she had been abandoned.
Without knowing what to do, we stood still while she waited next to us, waiting for some kind of reaction, until she chose to follow somebody else.
Not wanting to get onto another P11, we finished our journey on foot. Walking along a deserted street, where small farms have popped up, I caught sight of a helpless bird. Stuck to the pavement, four beautiful chicks were chirping uncontrollably. I stood watching over them while my friend took a chance and asked one of the farmers. Even if we did hand them over to their owner, I’m sure that we wouldn’t be able to save them from ending up in a pan, however, maybe I would prefer this to them being exposed to the abuse of some cruel kid.
One of the farmers came and told us that they weren’t his. Watching them closely, he added that they were a part of a santeria ritual because of the drawing they made. We asked him if it was necessary to leave them there until they died and he said it was. The answer sent chills down my spine. The man and I helped the chicks to jump over a small wall so that they could at least hide among the bushes.
However, this wasn’t a new situation. One night, while walking through Central Havana, a helpless chick caught my eye. I followed the sound and I could make out a man right on a corner, with a small yellow chick in his hand, almost newly-hatched out of the egg. The animal’s instincts clearly warned him that he was in danger. Returning along the same path later, I found the chick splattered across the pavement.
I am aware of the indifference that exists here in Cuba with regard to animal pain, but it doesn’t stop being heartbreaking when you see so many people walk on by. It’s not that they just don’t do anything to help the many hungry, sick animals that are objects in sadistic or wrongly-called “religious” practices. The really alarming thing is that they don’t even get upset.