An Underdeveloped New Year’s in Havana

Warhol P

bandera-cubanaHAVANA TIMES — A year ends and another one begins – such is the circle of life. I often wonder why people congratulate one another on the street. Is it to celebrate the fact we are still alive? If that’s the reason, I can understand that.

What I did the most this past New Year’s was to observe the behavior of certain Cuban families closely.

The first thing I noticed in my neighborhood was that nearly no one refurbished or painted their homes, as they had done in previous years. I also didn’t get a sense people were eager to celebrate the beginning of 2014.

I decided to spend my underdeveloped New Year’s in one of the zones of Alamar, the large housing projects neighborhood where my mother and other relatives live.

To my surprise, at no point during the night did I hear music playing at any of the neighboring buildings, something which struck me as extremely odd.

Only later, after midnight, did a group of teenagers walk by the front of the building making a racket with pots and pans, but that’s it.

I suppose many people opted to watch the musicals on TV, which were so similar to the ones shown in previous years they made you want to turn in.

But that’s not all. The next morning, when I got back home, I decided to take a stroll down the block, to see what the neighborhood felt like. Everything was the same: the streets were dirty, people were looking for food and the familiar neglect was everywhere.

At a street corner, I came upon a Cuban flag in a huge pile of garbage (I was able to take a picture to include it in this post).

I’d never seen anything like it:  people would walk past the garbage, see the flag there, left behind like a rag, and it meant nothing to them. Our flag was just more garbage to them.

This year started off on the wrong foot, I thought, cheerlessly.

I returned home, hoping that, one day, people’s lives would take a turn for the better, so that we can again celebrate the New Year with a great song and dance.

Nonardo Perea

Nonardo Perea: I see myself as an observant person and I like to write with sincerity what I think and live first hand. I’m shy and of few words; thus it’s difficult for me to engage in conversation. For that reason, my best tool for communicating is writing. I live in Marianao, Havana and am 40 years old.

4 thoughts on “An Underdeveloped New Year’s in Havana

  • I think you’re onto something there. That pile of garbage is a part of a much larger conceptual art piece started in 1959. The Cuban people pray that one day the whole ugly art project will be consigned to the “ash can” of history.

  • I don’t have time to read the article. The photo is part of the Cuban urban landscape (and the smell) sadly Cuban kids walk by one of this one in their way to school every day. Seen as normal by them, these kids will build a nation and a culture to reflect what they see as normal.

  • Are you sure that what appears to be “a huge pile of garbage,” is really an “art installation?” Maybe from the “ash can” school of art?

  • My personal observation: My wife and her Cuban friends who live outside of Cuba are far more patriotic and seemingly far more inclined to show flag respect than her friends and mine who live in Cuba. The Cubans who live outside of Cuba also seem to celebrate “Fin de Ano” with more hope and vigor. My wife went to Guantanamo to spend New Years with her family while I stayed here with our kids. I went to a party at a Cuban couple’s house in the SF Bay area to celebrate yearend and my wife was in her parents house. When she got back she said their whole house was asleep by 12:30am while the party I went to lasted until breakfast the next morning. Setting aside the financial difficulties most Cubans face, it seems to me that Cubans who live abroad celebrate “Cubanismo” far more vigorously than their counterparts in Cuba.

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