14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 22 July 2023 — The boat that connects the Old Havana pier with the town of Regla sailed again this Saturday, after several weeks out of service, supposedly for maintenance. Although the authorities had not foreseen the resumption of trips across the bay before August, the little boat returns without much evidence of its repair.
At the beginning of July, when this newspaper visited the Havana port to check the state of the Regla wharf, the poor state of the facilities was evident and the entrance to the wharf had been transformed into a stall selling ice cream.
This Saturday, neither the boat nor the dock seemed to have enjoyed the slightest repair. Those who advanced along the cement walkway after going through the always annoying checkpoints found the same boat, with the usual scars and peeling paint on which stood out, over the traditional white and blue hull, a sign paying homage to the “4th Congress” of the Communist Party, held in the distant year 1990.
La embarcación que conecta el muelle de La Habana Vieja con el poblado de Regla volvió a navegar este sábado, tras varias semanas fuera de servicio. pic.twitter.com/XojDJUaULz
— 14ymedio (@14ymedio) July 22, 2023
The person selling the tickets has already found a method to earn some extra money. Between smiles and dissimulation, he keeps the change from the cost of the ticket whenever there is an opportunity. Meanwhile, a uniformed woman searches bags and purses, without the slightest courtesy. Before boarding, passengers listen to the powerful voice of Marco Antonio Solís, who emphasizes from a scratchy radio that “the rhythm of life” seems wrong to him.
Inside the boat no one talks much. Some endure the trip better plugged in, headphones connected to their cell phones, while others look at the bay through the windows, barred in a style that closely resembles that of a prison.
To stay upright against the swaying of the boat, you have to cling to some hoses that nobody bothered to clean before restoring service. It is enough to touch them to be left with dirt between one’s fingers.
Leaning on one of the windows, two police officers down a bag of popcorn handful by handful. Although the gesture humanizes them in some way, people try to avoid them, perhaps because they have the tonfa and the regulation pistol very close at hand.
In Regla, the same rusty and precarious bridge awaits, which is scary to walk on and even more so as part of a group in a hurry. Behind, now unencumbered by the bags of popcorn, the policemen follow slowly.
The bay of Havana has long ceased to be the peaceful environment shown in the old engravings of the city. Its water is dark and stagnant, the passenger docks are on the verge of collapse and the horizon is dominated by a great cloud of smoke. The pollution generated by the chimneys of the Turkish floating power plant is already – Havanans know it well – part of the landscape.
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.