News and Facts about Cuba

You Have To Have Eyes To See The Wonder

“You Have To Have Eyes To See The Wonder” / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 8 June 2016 — As if it were a
Michelin star, tour operators, managers and those who rent private
rooms will exhibit, starting Tuesday, Havana’s status as one of the
“New7Wonder Cities” of the modern world. Although the rain intruded on
the unveiling of the plaque a few yards from the Malecon that confirms
the new title, popular humor has not ignored the designation.

This week, there has been an increase in jokes making the rounds about
the “wonder” of traveling in deteriorating urban buses, the marvel of
buying in a city in the grip of a dual currency system, or the
miracle of the many buildings that remain standing despite their
advanced stage of deterioration. Regardless of their disbelief, however,
Havanans try to make the best of the new categorization, as symbolic as
it is promising.

The Cuban capital figures on the list of 1,200 aspirants from 220
countries that competed for the grandiloquent epithet. Online voting put
the city among the 77 finalists, which were reduced to 28 official
candidates by a commission of experts.

Successive selections ended to the pleasure of a cabal of seven cities,
like musical notes, the principal colors, the seas and the sins. Along
with Havana the cities are Beirut (Lebanon), Doha (Qatar), Durban (South
Africa), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), La Paz () and Vigan (Philippines).

The big winners are the tour guides who, from air-conditioned buses,
tell foreign visitors the history of the taking of Havana by the English
and describe to them in epic tones El Morro lighthouse guarded by the
fortress of La Cabana. In these stories, Havana’s “wonder” status blocks
the view of everyday problems and improves the tips that end up in their

These chroniclers of a city that lives only in the pages of Lonely
Planet consider it an impertinence to note that on the day the
designation was made official rainfall occasioned a building collapse in
Central Havana while in the ration stores in the Cerro and Marianao
neighborhoods people were buying 11 ounces of “chicken for fish*” and
there was an extended power failure in Vedado.

None of the guides will tie the unexpected award to the celebration this
year of the Seventh Congress of the Communist Party, nor to the presence
of the country’s on the list of the seven oldest presidents in
the world.

José María, a young hustler who knows a few phrases in several languages
and specializes in dating tourists, was on the Malecón on Tuesday at the
time appointed to unveil the plaque. He hoped to engage in some
“business” with foreigners passing along the esplanade, but only found a
small group of officials headed by Havana City Historian Eusebio Leal

Under a piece of cardboard in lieu of an umbrella, José María heard the
phrase of the city historian: “You have to have eyes to see the
wonder.” Then the committee left in official cars and the young man
“captured” a couple of tourists to whom he described the wonderful
cigars, for a wonderful price, which he kept at home “very near here,”
so that they could smoke them in this wonderful city the official guides
don’t talk about.

Source: “You Have To Have Eyes To See The Wonder” / 14ymedio, Reinaldo
Escobar – Translating Cuba –

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