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.
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