Iván García, Translator: Regina Anavy
The habaneros were screaming for it. After 9 months of a fierce drought,
where water-laden clouds kept moving around the city, and the dams and
reservoirs had gone to code red, the rain appeared.
Now, when the month of May leaves us, the longed-for spring showers made
themselves present. Children and teens in shorts, barefoot and shirtless
enjoyed the first serious rain of the season
Some adults also joined the party. And worried. Water reserves in Havana
reach only 18%. And added to that, more than 60% is lost every night
because of leaks in the whole capital. The alarming shortage made the
water authorities give a new turn of the screw in the distribution of
the precious liquid in the capital.
In most neighborhoods of Havana, on alternate days, usually after 8 pm
at night, potable water is distributed to the population. In the old
part of town there are places where running water has never reached the tap.
There are houses with pipes thick with magnesium and garbage. Nemesio, a
resident of Laguna Street in the marginal and largely black suburb of
San Leopoldo, has forgotten the last time he took a shower.
In these places, the birthplace of prostitutes and swindlers, the
"pipers", as they call those who handle the "pipes" or tank trucks,
often make a lot of money. A family in a three-story tenement, with some
resemblance to a U.S. prison from the mid-20th century, pays up to $20
for the "piper" to fill their water tanks.
In these parts, water has its price. Types who came from the east of the
country who live underground in Havana, charge 4 dollars to fill up a
55-gallon tank. And believe me, there's enough work. With the first
rains of May, people breathed a sigh of relief.
"We now need it to rain every day for two months, in order to take the
bad away," says a santera. Like her, there are many people afraid of the
vagaries of time. The news from the north and south is frightening.
Murderous tornadoes in the U.S. and endless rain in South America. As if
to show that the world is upside down.
In Arroyo Arenas, municipality of La Lisa, west of the capital, there
was an intense local storm, which dropped hail the size of lemons. The
rains of May also brought thunderous lightning, and because of
deficiencies in drains and sewers, the streets were flooded.
But that's not important. Habaneros were clamoring for rain, so the dams
and the water table are overflowing. We'll see if these showers
alleviate the African heat.
The showers of May have returned a smile to residents and authorities.
Let the water continue. Let Havana become Macondo.*
Translator's note: Macondo is a fictional town created by Gabriel Garcia
Marquez. It suffered a four-year rainfall.
Translated by Regina Anavy
May 28 2011