Urban Animal Farms in Havana

By Paula Henriquez

Photo: srperro.com

HAVANA TIMES – When shortages and needs grow, you have to adopt new measures. During a time when finding things becomes an everyday headache and you run out of choices to get by, humans look for a way out, to carry on living.

The problem begins when not everyone looks for the best way to pull through without affecting their surroundings which they share with neighbors. Aren’t humans social beings?

I ask myself this question every day when I wake up and try to breathe standing in front of the window in my bedroom. The stench of feces left by some good-looking specimens of pigs thwarts any attempt to take a deep breath in the morning.

But that isn’t the worst thing. A little later, when the sun is at its highest point in the sky, this cocktail of odors takes on full life and is a great blow to my sensory system.

I live in Havana, a densely populated city, where most homes share a wall. It isn’t hard to imagine the distance between my bed and these stinky animals.

It’s worth mentioning that these aren’t the only animals on the other side of the wall. My neighbor also has poultry, rabbits and a poor dog who has been sentenced to a crueler imprisonment than the Count of Montecristo.

The reality is that this small urban farm isn’t regularly cleaned out. This isn’t something that worries our farmer though, that’s become clear. It just isn’t one of his priorities.

Not just the bad odors

But it doesn’t stop with the bad odors. That isn’t the worst thing about all of this. This lack of hygiene also brings other less pleasant and dangerous animal species, which breed. These can then turn into infestations.

This is how neighborly disputes begin. Problems that could be avoided with proper sanitation measures, which keep in check or prevent these animals from breeding.

My family and I have no other choice but to adopt our own sanitation measures to balance out this fragile neighborly life. This includes having a beautiful kitten who has kept these unwanted visitors at bay. It has also formed a friendship with the dog who is serving a harsh sentence.

On the other hand, the odors are a more complicated matter. The only way to prevent them is to politely ask the farmer to tend to his daily duties.

I’m not the only one in this situation. I know other families who are also suffering because of urban farms, or better yet, the people running them. If they don’t act civilly and, as a result, don’t respect those who share their living space, this alternative to getting by should be banned.

While nobody is taking note of this issue and taking action to regulate this activity, these small farms will continue to pop up all over the city, breaching the peace and destabilizing the already fragile harmony between neighbors.