Photo feature by Irina Pino
HAVANA TIMES – I was born in Havana’s El Vedado district, but I moved to the Playa municipality in 1996. However, when I walk through its streets, I realize that Vedado is deeply rooted in my life. I feel sad seeing it so destroyed, with felled trees, garbage on the corners, houses in poor condition, and some even uninhabited.
Its cosmopolitan character makes it unique, for its cinemas, theaters, hotels, restaurants, and parks. There is no lack of seascape along the Malecon boardwalk.
You can walk avoiding the sun through its streets with abundant trees. It is pleasant to look at the houses with their gardens, to smell their freshness.
The architecture is eclectic, of various styles, with old buildings twinned with modern ones. It is not boring at all. You can find a building from the early 20th century and another from the 1950s, on the same block.
The belief still persists that the people who live there are well off. The reality is that there are families that have greater possibilities, but there is also poverty, people who live in divided up houses and tenements, with hardships and deficiencies.
Nothing is like it used to be, El Vedado has lost its splendor, urban planning has been transformed, with those tacky constructions, which is nothing more than the generational expansion of the family. Children grow up, get married, and then the grandchildren come, they grow up and they get married, and thus the original dwelling is deformed.
Many have put businesses on the portals: restaurants, bars and cafes. Few have the sobriety that the building requires, they seem more like appendages attached to the facades.
On the other hand, at night everything is sadder, the avenues are dark, even 23rd Street.
In spite of everything, given the choice, I would go back, I remember the music concerts, the movies I used to see in its cinemas, the plays, its nightclubs where I went with my lovers of the time, the times in the parks with my friends, and the early morning wandering through its lonely streets.
Definitely, my heart stayed in El Vedado.