Journey to the Seed

Isbel Diaz Torres

HAVANA TIMES, Sept. 4 — This summer I went to visit my family in my tierra natal:  Pinar del Rio Province.  I have to admit, though, that I wasn’t prepared for the flood of both agonizing and appealing images that appeared; that’s why I wanted to share them.

The trip there was by way of the national freeway.   Every so many miles there would be an overpass leading to nowhere with people of infinite patience waiting in the shade for some type of transportation to come along and take them to their destination.

Most of the time, trucks, pick-ups, or cars will stop for them. On such occasions, Cubans aren’t so much looking for comfort, but to avoid the customary summer-afternoon cloudbursts or to merely get home before nightfall.

At one of those overpasses where we stopped, I spoke with some campesinos who were drying their rice crop on a section of the wide highway.  Making fun of me, they told me “Take some photos while you can, because soon you’re not going to see this anymore” – words that turned out to be a sad premonition.

I visited the community of my paternal grandparents, the Briones Montotos.   Their village is no more than a handful of buildings similar to those in the bedroom communities we have near Havana, but it’s completely isolated from the rest of the province.

It was sad to see how the extensive areas of citrus fruit that had always adorned the surrounding area are completely ruined today, the same as the schools, which looked appeared every so often in the landscape.

Later, I found the city of Pinar more beautiful than before.  I even ran into bewildered tourists, surprised at having their pictures taken by a local.  I was able to enjoy being there with my family, and my aunt showed me her attractive wooden furniture made from the infamous woody and thorny marabu bush weed.  Who would have believed it!

For the return trip to Havana —along the old and tortuous central highway— I made the obligatory stop at the Los Pinos exit.  There, I nostalgically recalled my childhood, remembering how when we used to rest there and have between-meal snacks in its assorted diners.  Today it seems more like a cemetery, with a huge garden area that lays there untilled.

Click on the tumbnails below to view all the photos in this gallery



3 thoughts on “Journey to the Seed

  • Isbel, thank you for sharing your pictures I used to go a lot to Pinar del Rio it is very close to my home town Consolacion del Sur.
    I have forgotten about waiting for transportation on the highway!
    Remember one time when I was traveling from Havana city to Consolacion I end up traveling on the freight train my difficulty was that it would not stop on every place and as I fear it did not stop on the stop I need it. So I had to wait until the first stop after the one I needed. That time I like many others were desperate because there was no transportation it was about 12:00 pm I think and there was no other method of transportation.
    Thinking this things it makes me think how difficult life was and is in Cuba and there is no foreseeable change as long as the current regime does not let people do what they need to do.
    Some times not knowing that things do not have to be the way they are could be considered a blessing. But on the other hand why do they have to be that way?
    Why transportation has to be so hard?
    Why food finding have to be so hard?
    Why everything has to be so hard?
    Some times I feel that we could just blame one person for all of it the one we all know. But in the end I realized we all share a bit of the guilt.

    Reply
  • Julio, it’s nice to know you’re also a “pinareño”… jejeje.
    There is something I know for sure: life is hard wherever you go, but it’s definitely not the same for everybody. I think it’s important to develop our faculties of seeing both “good” and “bad” things of our reality. And even more: see good into bad, and bad into good.
    It’s not a matter of blaming persons; it’s a matter of assuming responsibility and to work for the needed change. It’s important to ask for the responsibility of others, I agree, but it doesn’t transform.
    You made me remember my travels in train to Pinar del Río, with my parents. Those were some of the few nice moments of my childhood. Thank you

    Reply
  • Isbel, I think it is very important to find the problems and to point at them like you all do so that solutions are found. After all nobody could solve a problem if they do not know that such problem exist.

    For a long time to only point to a problem or to be critical was equivalent to be a counter revolutionary. I hope people will be allow to even make stronger statements without getting into any kind of trouble.

    As for blame or not. It is also important so that the person involve learn that we are all human. Even him. Nobody is perfect. Nobody is exempt from mistakes but thru mistakes is how we learn and grow.
    Sadly change is very hard when those people who are in power do not admit that they have been mistaken and take steps to rectified them. Therefore the importance of acknowledging them as first step and rectification as second. In other societies we can choose other leaders that could solve problems in different ways. As you know there could be many solutions to a given problem. Some solutions are good some are bad. The objective is to find the best solutions to problems. finding out what the meaning of “best solution” is a question that each person to answer.
    Another big mistake is that they have been punishing harshly the few voices that dare to point the mistakes or been critical. when they should prize their valor for pointing at the problems!

    Keep the good postings coming, you all at havanatimes are doing a great job.

    How different Cuba will be if instead of the triumphalism of Granma or the national news on tv they really portrait reality as it is. The one we all know exist in Cuba and not the fantasy world of the news?

    Reply

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