Havana’s Got a Thing

Havana’s Got a Thing
Fecha de publicación: 
23 November 2022
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It seems incredible but three years have gone by since the half millennium of the Villa de San Cristóbal de La Habana, which last Wednesday turned its 503rd anniversary.

36 months have passed since the fireworks and the cheers for the 500th anniversary, which have been a lesson in resistance and courage in the battle against COVID-19, which put the capital, the country, and the entire world in check.

The current context is better in terms of health, but the blockade in the United States, the energy crisis, scarce monetary liquidity linked to high inflation and various shortages continue to be affected, which have become new challenges for city dwellers, as well as for all Cubans in the island.

Even so, the Wonder City celebrated its anniversary again and as an example of the sociocultural plan of the revolutionary approach to today's problems - many of them accumulated over the years - are the advances in attention to vulnerable neighborhoods, whose inhabitants work side by side with the brigades of builders.

The Historical Center also inaugurated a group of works for the anniversary, which also pay homage to Eusebio Leal Spengler, the tireless man who gave everything for his hometown. Among them, the preparation of the remodeled Narciso López building, on Avenida del Puerto.

According to information from the City Historian Office, the ground floor of the facility, located on the street of equal name, is hosted by the Cultura entre las Manos project, whose objective is to promote the knowledge and use of Cuban sign language to contribute to its development in the cultural-heritage field.

Also on the 16, the date of the Villa's birth in 1519, 13 apartments located on the upper floors of the building itself were delivered, whose beneficiaries were members of the neighborhood.

In the area there were exhibition openings and a number of novelties as the occasion demanded, including the traditional ceremony of circling La Ceiba tree at the founding site in El Templete.

The many faces of Havana are in a deteriorated constructive state, despite the recovered houses, and the well-damaged avenues, the constricted urban transport bulk and the lack of continuous water service, to which has been added in recent times the crisis of the National Electric System.

However, this is a city that resists like its inhabitants and witness tourism reborn, with emphasis on its oldest side, undoubtedly a strong attraction and recognized several decades ago by Unesco.

What drove me to walk its narrow streets on November 16th, 2019, starting from Obispo, at the corner of Floridita Bar? Well, the same as this weekend, when I wanted to take the pulse of local life in that area.

You are revitalized by the bustle of its people, the proximity of the sea and its smell of salt, which penetrates your skin; and makes you take your picture again and see El Morro in the background, with the flag; and close to La Punta.

You once again admire the rebirth of trees and the splendor of public streetlamps, one more touch for the Havana nights, which have once again seen the boardwalk with its once human movement.

Havana has a thing about it. With its lights and shadows, it attracts even the most neutral. It shows the cadence of its many inhabitants and passers-by; and the usual musicality of Cubans, who carry the rhythm in their bodies and ears, either the trill of a mockingbird from one of the trees in Plaza de los Capitanes Generales, as well as the songs coming from loudspeakers, cell phones , radios from private homes and artistic venues that once again open their doors to art, for the good of souls.

For the 503, many efforts were made to improve in a thousand directions and there are already commitments for 2023. They are working non- stop. There’s no time to waste. Leal with his example, left behind a great team that was committed and capable. They know that works like these have no end and ensuring the replacement imposes continuity and keeps hopes high.

Cuba has very attractive places - this author confirms that she has traveled her country from west to east and from north to south, including its keys - and, of course, the capital is among them; with a special highlight because it leaves traces in its residents and visitors, to whom I asked the reason for such predilection, despite the accumulation of pending problems.

Most did not avoid the subject and most of the arguments were born from their dialogues.

A feeling of fidelity to the native prevails. They admitted that their customs, traditions, habits, friends and family have an important place in their lives, that the city has entered their minds and cradled in their hearts. What else could we tell him!, they confessed to me, and after saying goodbye to my random interviewees I was happy.


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