Come with me
“How much I love, how much!”, it gets to sing all who live, walk or visit Havana; all who come from the provinces or from abroad to visit a relative or a friend, to see the best specialists, or simply to sit in its parks, to meet its people, to visit historical sites or to sunbathe in its beautiful beaches.
This changing city, which refuses to get old and hides its wrinkles with lipsticks and blusher, invites us to embrace its experiences, dreams and hopes.
In these days, when the city wears its formal dress and shows its greatest fortunes, people have crowded the streets every day, not only weekends, as it is usual to go for a walk at nights in Havana. Publicity boards of theatres, movie houses, galleries, ballrooms, have been full of choices for the lovers of arts. These, at the same time, have had a precision in pleasing all kinds of audiences, not only youngsters. Because, although it’s gratifying to see how they come running from school to take a shower, tell a few friends and find a place where to go at night: the Sauce, the Café of the National Theatre, the Brecht theatre, the Pink Hall of the Tropical Benny Moré, etc.; it’s also satisfying to see how old ladies and men come back from their jobs, cook something quick and let everything arranged, then choose a dress or a shirt for special occasions, use that perfume they hardly have used because they never go out for a walk, to see a dance show at the Mella theater, to watch a film at the Chaplin movie theater or the Infanta movie house, to go to the Karl Marx theater and enjoy a concert or to go the popular “middle-aged discos”, more like salsa at the music halls of Centrohabana or Miramar or rock swing at the Yellow Submarine or the Maxim Rock.
It’s a pleasure, a huge joy, to see how the city gets back that artistic atmosphere of a cultural mega-center and how the different manifestations and artists get together to please their public and please themselves.
The Habanarte festival has been an experience on organization and expression; an injection that revives inertias and gives back its drive to the city.
This reminds me Jorge Mañach with his Scenes of San Cristóbal (1926) and, on the other hand, Alejo Carpentier with his Chronicles of the city. Both show the common walker who rediscovers the peculiarities, the unusual, and the uniqueness of the city, as Mañach said.
Towncriers, benches of Prado, San Rafael and Galeano and other streets, parks, buses, stores, and the typical characters from the neighborhoods, the symbolic places, districts, habits, businesses; all this is what invites these two excellent writers to describe the city. The city belongs to all with its democratic seafront, sidewalks and terrace roofs, where “everything is wide-open; everything is open to the inquisition of the passer-by”.
Havana and its festival of arts are also open during these days and they plan to appeal a huge amount of people from sidewalks, parks, balconies, terrace roofs and the seafront; salsa, rumba and rock ‘n roll, dance, theatre and plastic arts conspire with the idea of inviting us to other spaces where we also find “everything that forms the inalienable spirit of the city”.
Joanna Castillo Wilson
 Alejo Carpentier: Chronicles of the city, Letras Cubanas publishing house, Havana, 2002.