Back from Homeland (III) – Pinar

Posted: October 15, 2012 by jennroig in Articles, Chronicles, English, Miscellaneous, Travels
Tags: , , ,

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: I was born in Pinar del Rio.

That’s the province on the west side of Cuba. In Cuba, it’s common to hear jokes about people from Pinar del Rio – pinareños- referring to them as foolish and unsophisticated. That may or may not apply to pinareños, depending on the individual. But I’d say to anyone who asks there are wise and stupid people wherever you are or go. And I’ve met a lot of clever people from there.

One of the reasons people explain why Pinar del Rio is center of so many jokes is it is the only province at the of Havana. You can’t get there by accident, or to spend some hours on your way to some place else, and that explains why the highway to Pinar has always been so unpopulated… by cars. You could find a lot of people hitchhiking along the way.

I was in Pinar this time as well, to visit my father. I was impressed by how green the countryside appeared, in comparison to my memories. My parents explained me that this has been a generous year with the rains, and the dams are full of water which is good for agriculture, but also for cities and towns where the people must deal with water shortage on dry seasons.

(cc) jennroig

There are mountains along the highway, La Sierra del Rosario. Someplace there, Che Guevara had his headquarter during the Missil Crisis, when the island was ready to go to a suicide war against the American army. “Será mejor hundirnos en el mar/ que antes traicionar/ la gloria/ que se ha vivido”. Cold war times. Today local and foreign tourists, including an occasional American, who like to climb or hike go there quite frequently, despite the official prohibition that it’s supposed to prevent them from doing exactly that.

My father has a heart condition. When I was in Hamburg a year ago I was told he had had a heart attack, but I was told later, when everything was back to normal, so I wouldn´t drive myself crazy, because I could do little from such distance. Luckly, that won’t happen again. But the thing is one of the reasons of this journey was to check by myself on my father. And he was ok, considering.

Remember I said I was sad and disappointed about Havana? Well, I feel comfortable about my hometown. It remains as boring and unsophisticated as always.

Natural Science Museum

No surprises. It’s like a wonderland untouched by time, without the wonder part. The houses were the same, the people keep their gossiping habits, the streets were the same, with little cars on them as usual. Honestly, when you are a migrant who hasn’t been able to really settle down anywhere, it’s quite comforting to find out that some stuffs defy time and changes. It gives you something to hold on to, or something where to go with your mind to recover memories and feel you are real, somehow.

taken from the web


I suppose this is not something exclusive about Pinar del Rio. A German friend told me that he feels similar everytime he visits his hometown in Germany. What might be different is how much poorer I found people there. But I can’t tell yet, I can’t figure out if it’s me, my yes that got used to see people with more means outside, or if it’s them who have become poorer.


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