14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 9 October 2021 –Despite the cloudy skies this Saturday, Havanans flocked to cool off in the Playas del Este, a coastline that was closed to bathers for months. But taking the long-awaited dip required a long line to get on the buses that travel to that area of the Cuban capital or being willing to pay the high prices of private taxis.
Hundreds of people were waiting early in the line for Route 400 that starts near the Central Railway Station and reaches the town of Guanabo, one of the most visited beaches. Those who did not want to wait too long and also wanted to travel more comfortably, then had to shell out 100 Cuban pesos for a position in a private almendrón*.
Although a large police operation was evident on the beach, the use of the mask outside the sea was not especially observed. But the uniformed men did seem very strict with the groups of young people, especially those who were black, asking for their identity documents, checking their bags and offering harsh words about the behavior to be maintained on the beach.
The food-service offers also left much to be desired, although since the beaches were opened to the public on September 29, several private businesses have re-established table service. The limited supply of menu options and sky-high prices scared off many bathers. Others, aware of the situation, brought a snack from home, a bottle of frozen water and even music on their wireless speakers.
*Translator’s note: ‘Almendron‘ is used to designate private taxi services in Cuba. The word derives from ‘almond’ and is a reference to the shape of the classic American cars that are often used in this service.
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