Obstacles in Our Paths

Regina Cano

Street in Trinidad, Cuba. Photo: Paul Harris

Walking along the sidewalks in Havana — in any one of its neighborhoods — has become like walking a tightrope, but not because of the number of people dashing here and there at all hours.

Instead, the supposed maintenance of our urban thoroughfares has brought its consequences like every attempt at regulation approached reluctantly and with little enthusiasm.

The old traffic signs (stop signs, bus stop signs and even markers for dumpster sites) are cut from their apparent foundations leaving a couple inches of metallic base protruding from the cement.

The tripping over of these by pedestrians — who are either preoccupied in the day or walking blindly in pitch-black Havana streets at night — force us to scrutinize each and every step along our paths.

So, my people! This situation, which appears benign, in fact causes the most unlikely accidents.

The jutting ends of those old signposts result in thuds, stubs and spills that are difficult to avoid.  These cause irreparable breaks, embarrassing stumbles, tumultuous falls, jammed toes, scratched up shoes and additional health care costs – but with zero accountability.

All of us are exposed to those unpleasant encounters with these gendarmes of the sidewalk, which can abruptly halt your movement in the worst way.  For the pedestrian, these are comparable to our oh so familiar cracks in the sidewalk or our potholed streets, the ones that fill up with rainwater or with nauseating black excretions from broken sewage lines.

These unnecessary obstacles only hamper those of us who have more than enough daily concerns and are only scrambling around in search of ways to deal with them.

Regina Cano

Regina Cano: I have lived my entire life in Havana, Cuba – the island from which I’ve still never left, and which I love. I was born on September 9, and my parents chose my name out of superstition, but my mother raised me outside the religion professed by her family. I studied accounting and finance at the University of Havana, a profession that I’m not engaged in for the time being, and that I substituted for doing crafts, some ceramics, and studying a little English and about painting. Ah! – concerning my picture: I identify with Rastafarian principles, but I am not one of them. I wear this cap from time to time, but I assure you I just didn't have a better picture.



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