Havana’s Almendares Park Isn’t Eden

Photo Feature By Irina Pino

HAVANA TIMES – Sometimes, we believe that a place has all the conditions to make us feel complete with nature’s language, where vibrations from the green trees, running water in a river and birds chirping, sink us into our inner peace. But that isn’t the case, there are irresponsible people in the world who make it their job to negatively transform these spaces, violating natural harmony.

Almendares Park is next to the Havana Forest, and they both share the Almendares River.  It’s said to have been built after 1959.

The city’s lungs are being polluted with twisted recreational activities, that go against the Park’s primary purpose. When this happens, everything becomes different, and stupidity takes over to turn it into something else.

The Park still stands strong, it has vast green spaces, with magnificent trees, a children’s park, a skating rink, picnic areas, a cafe, a place to play miniature golf, a jetty, and an amphitheater. You can see the marvelous Almendares Bridge, and how people and cars pass over it.

The Park’s administration have allowed private restaurants to be set up, with prices that are way out of any Cubans’ pocket (dishes for 1000 pesos or more). There’s even a super expensive ice cream parlor. It’s worth pointing out that almost nobody comes, they only make money when they’re hired out for parties, birthdays, and weddings.

These businesses are environmental dynamite, both because of their aesthetic imbalance, as well as the racket of Reggaeton music they play, which casts a shadow on the natural voice of the habitat and violates people’s ears who have come looking for peace and quiet.

I imagine that this prevailing bad taste is employees’ doing, people with very low culture. The main objective is to earn money, even if it’s like this.

Sometimes, I’ve seen rubbish in the river, which is full of water bottles, which fishermen put in to mark their nets. This shouldn’t be allowed.

On the other hand, they’ve allowed some hideous murals on the inside of the bridge’s walls, with trivial messages, that have no place here.

I want to mention that the skating rink, miniature golf area and nearby picnic areas aren’t used at all. This, as well as the precarious children’s playground equipment, and a rubber dinosaur behind a fence, that is completely out of context.

Ah, and lastly, the amphitheater isn’t used either. The famous Cuban Nueva Trova concerts used to be held there. It was a place where lots of young people would come together to listen to Pablo Milanes’ songs in the last century, and Frank Delgado’s jams, with its controversial subjects.

It’s sad to see the incompetent administration, and how this paradise is falling into ruin.

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