Amid the Curious and ‘Restless Boys’
HAVANA TIMES – With the sails up and her crew singing, the Norwegian sailboat Statsraad Lehmkuhl docked in Havana last Wednesday. “Are you bringing pork?” A Havanan was heard to say, watching the arrival of the boat from the Malecón. “Pork and hotdogs is what it takes,” he insisted.
The three-masted ship, built in 1914, arrived on the island as part of the One Ocean initiative and will remain anchored for five days at the Sierra Maestra Cruise Terminal. Representatives of Central State Administration entities and diplomats from Norway will make official on the vessel the project called NORAD for the production of marine fingerlings.
“The Malecón is full of restless boys,” mused a young man, alluding to political police officers in plainclothes. “Everybody stares at you when they see you with your cell phone in your hand,” he added. “The same old thing: here, there is more State Security than anything else, looking at you as the face of a serial killer.”
Indeed, the event, despite its eye-catching appearance, did not attract many ordinary Cubans.
This sailboat arrived nine days after Cuba reopened its borders. Its crew was to speak last Friday in a seminar on sustainability and the environment of the oceans to be held at Cuba’s Hotel Nacional.
Large cruises are still expected on the island this season, another of the Government’s hopes to reactivate the tourism sector, currently plunged into a deep crisis. In the first half of 2021, only 141,316 visitors were received, one-seventh as many as in the same period of the previous year, which was already very bad (986,673).
On October 18, the Prensa Latina agency published that the Fidelis sailboat, with the British flag and registered in Grand Cayman, was the first boat to arrive in Havana. The “pleasure” boat, with eight crew members on board, came from the Varadero resort.
Before the covid-19 pandemic, the Spanish Navy training ship Juan Sebastián de Elcano re-staged its first trip to Havana to commemorate the city’s fifth centenary. Ninety years after its first visit, the boat was greeted with 21 salvoes from the old San Carlos de la Cabaña fortress.
From the entrance to the bay, the songs of the crew of the Norwegian sailboat began, and they greeted the few onlookers who were watching them: “buenos días” and with laughter at the responses of the people from Havana they heard: “How are you?” The spirit remained in the boat, waiting for an order to descend.