I took a look around that place, because they had already told me about its crowd. And I saw them. One of them could not have been more than fifteen years old. The others, who were not more than 25, gave off subtle signals, between smiles, of having lived much more. Except for the youngest they all had tattoos, Bucanero beers in their hands and cigarettes. They looked at the arriving modern cars with ecstasy. Before dawn, they gradually settled next to the newly arriving, robust gentlemen who would immediately ask for hollywood cigarettes and more beer, or for the chauffeur of one of the three parked cars. The youngest and a girlfriend got into an Audi with tourist plates heading for Las Tunas.
It’s not pleasant to go to Guáimaro, the town with the most history in the Camagüey region, since the private buses that operate on the route from Camagüey take much more than an hour to arrive, and if one leaves from Las Tunas it’s almost the same.
I always passed through there in a hurry, headed somewhere else. And that is what this town has always been, a place for passing through. Guáimaro is almost at the border that divides two very discordant regions, culturally and economically: Camagüey and Oriente (the East).
Guáimaro is well-known for the abundant livestock that has always roamed its plains. Although in the newspaper Adelante, the official voice of the Party in the province of Camagüey, it is prohibited to publish how much livestock there was in Camagüey prior to the Revolution, everyone knows that today only a shadow remains. The milk, the meat and the cheese that comes out of here keeps a good part of the country alive.
What I related in the beginning, I saw on a Sunday, in the rápido that’s in front of the town’s terminal. A rápido, anywhere in Cuba, is a type of cafeteria that is open 24 hours and is outdoors, with little tables covered by an awning and of course, alcoholic beverages sold in divisas (foreign currency); in other words, it’s not a place for the normal Cuban. Later, I was told about the long, useless list that the authorities have compiled to track and monitor the teenagers who frequent the place.
The Guáimaro museum also opens at night. It is close to the road. It is the only house in Cuba where two constitutions have been signed, possibly the two most democratic. There were no more visitors. A few pieces of furniture, and graphics with brief information is all the visual tribute to the men who tried to turn a fertile farm into a country with civil liberties. The cold that comes off the huge house is incapable of reviving the bitter sessions of 1869 and the jubilation of 1940.
Late at night I returned to the terminal, to wait for some type of transportation. Meanwhile, the couples who had already been formed at el rapido began to slip apart. Sleepy, I managed to get out of there aboard a truck at three in the morning.
Translated by: Antonio Trujillo
August 19, 2010