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Guanabo, Cuba, a Ghost Town

Guanabo, Cuba, a Ghost Town
March 22, 2015
By Danay Riesgo Diaz (Café Fuerte)

HAVANA TIMES — It was the beach town where I lived most of my childhood;
few people in the Cuban winter and many in summer. Even in hard times it
doesn’t cease to be fascinating, magical and provocative. Friendships
remain, even though they are no longer there. The type of friends you
can count on without asking. Those who know what how you feel by just
looking into your eyes.

My Guanabo is no longer what it was. It gets lost between the shadows of
the past and the uncertainty of the future. The unhealthiness is
frightening. Today I see the kids swim among the bacteria, viruses and
parasites of all the septic tanks, which are now in name only. They flow
into the sea like the Nile into the Mediterranean. From afar you notice
the change in color and from a little closer you smell the stench. It’s
no longer safe to take that refreshing afternoon dip of yesteryear. The
children in the water risk getting a amoebas, cholera, gastroenteritis,
or other illnesses.

The stones, glass, paper and waste of all kinds adorn the little sand
left. The only thing that remains unchanged is the placid horizon to
lose oneself in its nuances.

The passage of time

The playgrounds in Guanabo are oxidized and broken by the passage of
time and lack of maintenance, but they are still standing, surviving
life along with the houses with children. In those parks I played
soccer, baseball and hide-and-seek and laughed to no end. Specifically,
484th Street Park, one of the best in Guanabo, seems to have been bombed
and left in oblivion, but still has the luxury of having a guard. Small
local kids still go play there because it’s the only place they can.

The Guanabo movie theater, which was the first movie theater of my life,
then a local with air conditioning and first run movies, no longer casts
even a shadow of its former self. Now it’s nothing. Now we have to buy
movies for 1 CUC on the main street (5th. Avenue) and the idea of
??”going to the movies” died or it remains among the ruins that lie
there. If the Lumiere brothers entered the remains of the Guanabo
cinema, they would repent their invention.

I was curious to approach a library that seemed to float or worse,
sinking like the Titanic. I remember it was on the same street as the
cinema. Some old books, which for old would not stop being interesting-
can be seen through the broken wooden windows. I couldn’t go in because
the entrance was flooded, but at first glance you could see the
desolation, the smell of oblivion, the poverty, chaos, depression,
despondency and discouragement.

A general sadness

I walked away and I started thinking about how children can live in a
ghost town, in a town mortally wounded from neglect and abandonment.
Then I felt fear, fear for the future that awaits many of my former
neighbors -above all- the smallest and defenseless.

Source: Guanabo, Cuba, a Ghost Town – Havana Times.org –
http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=110150

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