Ruins for Tourists

Ruinas: Prado y Teniente Rey, la 'esquina del pecado'. (14ymedio)
Ruins at Prado and Teniente Rey, the ‘sin corner.’ (14ymedio)

Tourists like to portray ruins. They do this at the Greek Parthenon, the Roman Coliseum and the crumbling Mexican pyramids. But Havana’s ruins have “another charm.” As in this picture, where a good telephoto lens can capture a tiled wall with enclosed shower, the bowels of an electrical installation, truncated stairs and, hopefully, even the innocent graffiti a teenager scribbled on the wall of his bedroom.

This is the corner of Prado and Teniente Rey, where until recently a seedy little bar served as a meeting point for the gay community. A hunting ground, where the roles of prey and hunter were happily played out between prostitutes and middle-aged tourists.

Perhaps this desolate landscape will not last as long as others that have become emblematic of the capital city. With its privileged position, facing the National Capitol, it can be expected that the debris will be cleared away very soon. Perhaps at first there will be a parking lot, and with time a hotel, a store, an office complex.

I fantasize that the ground floor will house a café where deputies will finish settling the arguments still pending in the Parliament. I see lobbyists, stalking like new hunters, the most influential parliamentarians and I also imagine that the odd nostalgic tourist will lament the crime of what they did with the beautiful ruins.

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