Covid Struck While on a Visit to Havana

Alberto then painted and repaired the building where he lived along with neighbors

By Aurelio Pedroso (Progreso Weekly)

HAVANA TIMES – Nowhere else in this world is this news, perhaps not warranting even a slight mention. However, it is quite an event, and applauded with fervor in Cuba. The idea that someone comes from Miami and decides to paint and repair an entire building — from windows and garage doors to the septic tank.

Decades after the Argentine Carlos Gardel sang, Havana continues to show that filmic image, Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar added, “it was beautiful, but looks like a bombed city.”

Havana has not progressed much since then, when it comes to maintaining its architectural beauty and splendor. Its buildings require a fresh coat of paint and much fine tuning. If it’s not for one reason, it’s the other. And there are all sorts of excuses. At the same time, responsibilities abound at every level.

The truth is that the city continues to cry out for a serious once over. And I’m not referring to those emergency facade make-overs because of the visit of some important personality, an event to be held, or because some high-ranking Cuban official transits a certain road.

A short visit turned long and productive

The case in question was of a visitor taken by surprise by Covid-19. Not rich and much less a millionaire, he invited several neighbors to “put some sweat equity” into the building. Between them they took on the task at a cost that the person in charge refuses to reveal. With the help of a brigade of private or cooperative workers they undertook the task with care and dedication under difficult circumstances. We all know here the high price of a bag of cement or a simple brick, not to mention paint.

Today the building built in the 1950s draws the attention of all who pass by it. Few realize how it was rescued to its original beauty in such a short time and under the scourge of the pandemic.

The history of Alberto could be made into a movie. The narrative would depend on the scriptwriter and the director. Maybe made into a tragicomedy. 

He left as soon as conditions allowed after almost a year in confinement. And he left as Cuban as ever. Hopefully, he will return one day with better epidemiological luck and new endeavors if the neighbors are willing to help.

Read more from Aurelio Pedroso here on Havana Times.