Sunday, January 24, 2010

Havana’s Living Streets.

Life in Havana is to live in the sweaty streets of the city. Day and night Havana downtown is noisy, vibrant and restless. Early morning is mostly quietly, and as time passes the hustle and bustle of the city is lifting the spirit of the sleepy shattered capital of Cuba. Havana's living streets

During the morning hours could be a bit quiet, but as noon is approaching and the dusty stores are opening their doors, the soft murmuring is changed by a loudly noise: old cars’ horns, people screaming from their balconies across the streets, the lousy hawking of someone selling something door to door, the blast of the police cars or firefighters trucks, a radio or record player with the volume at the highest level imaginable and people yelling or screaming side to side.

On the streets is where you can find the medicines you don’t find in the pharmacies, or the last movie or soup opera recorded from the satellite channels illegally installed in a few houses, or even the news that no newspapers are publishing in Communist Cuba.

From mouth to mouth, Cuba has a huge geography of rumours, news and stories hushed up by the official media: crimes committed by high ranked people or little ones, robberies and corruption, and a huge market of jokes about Castro’s health.

Havana’ streets are long corridors of young partying people, seating on the sidewalks selling illegal products and illegal sex, playing domino or drinking alcohol, asking for a chewing gum to the occasional tourist or proposing any business to obtain the survival dollar. Cuba’s streets are dissidents in their core, deeply illegal in their heart and essentially survival in their philosophy.

You can find the homeless sleeping in the corner of any church, or the mad man driving an imaginary car across the scorch pavement, the charming and generous mulata dancing voluptuously under the rhythm of any catchy song, the pair of drunkards fighting for some money or some old debts, the rude and bad tempered police catching any helpless citizen and eluding the well-known criminal from whom he is frighten, and time to time the strolling of foreigners looking side to side between astonished and amassed.

The streets are crowded of people all day and night long, and even at the latest hours you hear the noisy life creeping over the crumbling buildings. A later party in one corner, and the decrepit bar in the other side screaming an old tune, with the three eternal drunkards breaking the peace made Havana a dark city of ghosts. At night, its streets are dark and dingy with a gloomy atmosphere only broken in large avenues and in important interceptions, a few of them.

The city is lacking places of entertainment for the youth, with the exceptional corner of Coppelia in Vedado, and a few other spots mostly afforded in CUC (Cuban convertible currency). Clubs, hotels and restaurants belong to who are carrying dollars: tourists, people who receive remittances, high ranked officials in Cuba’s ladder and the outlaws of Cuba.

Nightlife belongs to the underground Cuba, whose life begins after 10 pm and finishes when dawn is close: the time when police vanished living the premises free to the other Cuba. The Cuba nobody mentions in newspapers and TV news. The Cuba of nocturnal flowers and criminal activities never accounted in blogs and statistics. The Cuba never reflected in Castro’s reflections and public speeches: the Cuba of prostitution and drugs, petty thieves and worthless youth.

A few pairs of lovers in Malecon, groups of rowdy young people screaming and swearing to any motorcycle or women passing by, the lousy living life waiting for the end of the blackouts in some parts of the city, or even people who only wish to reach their sleep after a long journey of survival: a long life of broken dreams are carried through the streets of Havana.

But Cubans smile, sing their song and make their joke against the odds of their life. Nothing is too serious for a well-done mockery to their leaders, or terrible in their life to deserve a laugh. Meanwhile the comedy is absent of our official Cuba, our streets are the vibrant scenery for everything that we let go in the last 50 years.

After all, in our streets life is living by its own laws with no restrains and no tyranny possible. It is the only territory free in our suffered island. Although time to time, their life is broken into pieces with the boots of the Estate henchmen, but it doesn’t last too long. We are living in an Estate governed by tides. In high tides our streets are lifeless, when the tides fade Havana’s living streets come to life and the circle of life begins.


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