14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 14 January 2023 — There was a warning of its arrival ever since the early hours of Saturday. From dawn onwards the gusts of wind and the cold drizzle marked the first day in 2023 in which Habaneros could be sure that a little bit of winter had indeed arrived. On the seafront avenue Malecón, the traffic continued to circulate towards the zone closest to Calle Paseo; however, in El Vedado the ingress of seawater forced the closure to traffic.
“The water’s rising fast”, a local resident complains. The man had to drain the pathway because the water “is very cold” and it’s already starting to rise higher and take away the two rubbish bins near his house. The flooding is bad news for someone who spends hours waiting in a nearby shop to buy the sausages and picadillo [ground meat]that had finally arrived after weeks of delay.
A grey Havana with winds and temperatures below 20C is much less frequently photographed and written about than when there are blue skies and the sea’s like a millpond — which is how it’s seen in the paintings sold to tourists and in all the travel agents’ publicity photos. Talking of cold fronts: sometimes you might see pictures of the waves which crash over the sea wall of the Malecón or of the sea’s assault against the Morro lighthouse, but much less often will you see pictures of the murkiness that sticks to the city — a city where these cold fronts have switched off the colours.
The cracks in the walls seem wider, the holes in the roads deeper, and the people smaller, dressed in overcoats several sizes too big or in threadbare jackets. When the mercury falls, the city takes on a certain sincerity, because without the sun’s “make-up”, all of its shadows begin to emerge.
Translated by Ricardo Recluso
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