As Old as the Morro Fortress Itself

Dariela Aquique

Ceremony of the Santiago de Cuba Morro Cañonazo

HAVANA TIMES, Dec. 6 — Referring to my commentaries, readers will say that these appear with an eternal nostalgia.  I believe there’s no Cuban of my generation or of the previous ones who doesn’t suffer from the infection of nostalgia.

So many of the good customs, tastes and traditions have been trapped in the past, even the promise of a “better future,” which is among the old slogans that we today find “retro” (meaning retrospective or retrograde).

All of this brings back emotionally charged memories, evoking the scenery of a family walk, a dinner among friends, those vacations at cabins on the beach, tours around Cuba, or plate-glass windows full of toys, and

The Morro Fortress in Santiago de Cuba is one of those places that is a must see.  It demands photos of the bay, the Queen’s Balcony and its old canons, which will all later fill the family album with shots of parents and children (the indispensable nucleus of all societies).

The Morro was the witness and the setting of those years in which uncertainty and despair had not yet come to occupy our people completely.

Castillo San Pedro de la Roca

The still-life that is, exactly at the entrance of the castle, one finds a typical yet memorable restaurant – with clay crockery, Creole food and foamy beer in mugs in the style of colonial times.  There I enjoyed myself a countless number of times with my brother and my mother for exquisite meals after evening walks.

Definitively, the years have passed, but the old Morro continues there, defiant.  Families no longer visit it; now tourists on package plans make their rounds wandering its corridors, confounded between the comments by the museum guides and the constant siege of jineteros (street hustlers).

The still-life has lost its magic.  It’s no longer so exclusive.  Today they sell beer, juice, cigarettes, sun glasses, chewing gum, etc.

Tourists at the Bodegón del Morro

Countless tables strewn with handicrafts and indistinct objects fill Santiago’s impetuous castle up to the Queen’s Balcony, which cannot be entered due to the danger of its collapse, as the canyons are prepared for a not-at-all original ceremony.

My view becomes lost in the bay.  My mother is no longer with me, she died a few years ago, and my brother turned into a balsero (rafter) in search of the dream of “a better life.”  A tourist´s eyes at me with lust, while I become depressed as my good memories have now turned old – as old as the Morro itself.

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Dariela Aquique

Dariela Aquique: I remember my years as a high school student, especially that teacher who would interrupt the reading of works and who with surprising histrionics spoke of the real possibilities of knowing more about the truth of a country through its writers than through historical chronicles. From there came my passion for writing and literature. I had excellent teachers (sure, those were not the days of the Fast-track Teachers) and extemporization and the non-mastery of subjects was not tolerated. With humble pretenses, I want to contribute to revealing the truth about my country, where reality always overcomes fiction, but where a novel style shrouds its existence.

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One thought on “As Old as the Morro Fortress Itself

  • Don’t loose heart, Dariela! The past is inextricably linked to the present, and vice versa! Just like Rumplestiltskin of the folk tale, from “straw”–those nostalgic memories of the past–you can spin the “gold” of art. Gabriel Garcia Marquez was able to produce such art from his (collective) memories, and Alejo Carpentier once dreamt of those “Sweet Memories of the Future”! Life may seem to have no purpose, to be like some sort of chaos, but within each and every one of us we have the power to pick up the pieces and gradually put them together into a design, a mosaic, and at least solve our own puzzle.

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