“Hey, and how is Matanzas?” Cubans from here and there ask over and over again when they talk to anyone who lives or is passing through the “city of bridges”, still immersed in that strange sensation caused by the relief at the end of a tragedy and grief for the lives that were lost.
After chaotic days, an endless number of ideas crowd around this question, but one stands out: in Matanzas there is tranquility, a dense tranquility…
Without the enormous curtain of black smoke that clung to the Yumurian landscape for almost a week, and without the burning and gloomy light that tormented the city from the bay, people have gradually lowered tensions, although it is —and will be— much more complicated to leave behind the nightmare of fire at the Supertanker Base.
In the faces of Matanzas, returning to their daily routine, the sorrow, the restlessness and the concern for the search and identification of the disappeared in the large-scale incident, which began in the afternoon-night of Friday, August 5 and it was officially extinguished a week later in the morning hours.
Dozens of forensic and specialized Legal Medicine teams undertake this meticulous tracking work, which the Yumurinos follow from a distance, aware that there is no chance of finding survivors, but also convinced of the need to take on the task with the utmost seriousness out of respect to the families of the victims.
“I don’t even want to think about how hard this time of waiting is for the mothers of those boys. It kills me just to imagine it. It has been a disaster, very hard, very suffered. I know that it should not be of much consolation, but I hope these families feel the strength and support that all Matanzas people transmit to them, ”she assured OnCuba a motorist near Middle Street, the heart of the provincial capital.
Although the pain squeezes and chokes, people can not stop. Some go down Calle Ríos, get into Medio, go up Milanés or stay in the few shadows of Parque de la Libertad; a seller of fried peas returns to his usual stall, right next to where they sell a bread with suckling pig? that it is not what it was; car and motorcycle drivers make long lines to take advantage of the fact that there is fuel and fill the tanks; a wheelbarrow has avocados and bananas a little more expensive than yesterday and cheaper than tomorrow…
“El Chino”, a peasant from Holguin who lives in the Yumurí Valley, stands at the door of his barbershop and opens his arms to the exquisite diversity of his clients, children and the elderly, religious and atheists, convinced and confused revolutionaries, communists and dissidents, baseball players and soccer players, residents or emigrants; In a pedicab someone sells crates of bread at 80 and 100 pesos depending on the size, although they are all equally small; a woman walks happily next to a huge thousand-dollar refrigerator that she has bought with the “hard currency” that they sent her from outside or that she exchanged in the informal market at 125 or 130 pesos per dollar…
Apparently, life has returned to normal, everyone carrying the weight of their own world, although some misfortunes are shared in good faith: queues at the bank, at the Etecsa office, at the bakery, at the pharmacy or at points of commerce in national currency, blackouts of three, four or six hours, depending on what the person who raises and lowers the little lever understands.
“I have lived a long time and, in particular, I have lived moments like this in other times. Precisely for this reason, I know that nothing that affects us is going to change soon, I don’t see how we can get out of the situation we are in. You have to resign yourself, or do something else,” says a 91-year-old man in the town of San Juan, on the outskirts of the city, where he assures that there is a lot of fear due to the impact that the enormous economic losses will cause due to the incident in the city. Industrial zone.
By the way, in Matanzas there is also a renewed panic in the face of lightning. Last Friday, August 12, a week after the fire started at the Super Tanker Base, another storm advanced from the south and stationed itself over the city with rain, lightning and thunder. Some jumped out of their chairs and hid in the rooms thinking that the worst could happen, again.