A sequence of roofs, avenues and narrow streets, reproduced with plastic and paint. A small scale city, locked in the Model of Havana room in the Miramar neighborhood. Yellow glasses let you travel, at a glance, along the streets, around the corners, up the little elevations and along the serpentine coast. The same magnifying lenses help us to enjoy the Capitol dome seem from above, or the dark face of El Morro. A model in miniature of a city that from any tall building seems to go on forever, but here it is, captured in a diminutive duplicate, trapped in a few square yards of cardboard.
The guide to this peculiar museum explains — once you enter — that the representation has been painted in four different colors: brown is for the constructions of the colonial period; mustard for the buildings from 1902 to 1959; bone-colored for the buildings erected in the last five decades; and white — striking and distant — for monuments and future projects. All the visitors and tourists end up saying the same thing, “Havana is mustard!” And I can see that yes, it’s true, while explaining a detail here, some twist or turn there.
Yes, my city is mustard, spicy and sour, seasoned by the old, increasingly distant from modernity. A sample at natural size, where there are days in which one would it like to be — like in the Model of Havana — made of plastic, or cardboard, but not suffering from so much ruin.
November 14, 2010