The First Town and the pain of all the centuries

Images and testimonies after the passage of Matthew add to the history of hurricanes. 

By: Yunet López

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2016-10-07 | 14:04:06 EST
The photos show that many streets of Baracoa, city of waters and virgin forests when the Spanish made it the First Town, are no longer the same, and give the impression that the houses have aged a hundred years.The photos show that many streets of Baracoa, city of waters and virgin forests when the Spanish made it the First Town, are no longer the same, and give the impression that the houses have aged a hundred years. Photo: FacebookZoom

Now it has passed over. And everyone went into the street looking up at the sky, as if trying to imagine the route taken by the hurricane. That’s how the easternmost part of Cuba woke up this morning, after Matthew, with the speed of an ant and the force of an elephant, crossed over Baracoa, Imías, San Antonio del Sur and Maisí, the night before.

The photos show that many streets of Baracoa, city of waters and virgin forests when the Spanish made it the First Town, are no longer the same, and give the impression that the houses have aged a hundred years.

Young Enma, 24, knows this well. When the force of the hurricane struck, half of her home, tiled, was blown away. She, her husband and their two young children were in the other half which has a concrete roof and resisted.

She put a little bed in the kitchen for the babies to sleep undisturbed, but she suffered every minute of the blows of the cyclone, and with water up to her ankles, caused by the penetration of the sea, she prayed that nothing bad would happen. Still with a trembling voice she spoke, on a poor mobile phone, telling me about her fear that the roof would fall in on them caused by the blows of the wind.

From four in the afternoon until eleven at night we suffered the storm, she said, and again talked about her sumptuous patio now devoid of trees, and the sad scene of seeing all the houses of her neighbourhood without roofs.

‘’But we’re alive,’’ she murmured in consolation.

And this was also the opinion of Nidia, a 64 year old from Baracoa, who had never felt the terrible force of a hurricane like this, nor so so much fear in one night.

‘’It was horrible, as if the sea had come in completely and was destroying the streets, it was really wild.’’

She, her sister and her 12 year old granddaughter spent the night in the bathroom, with a candle, listening to the window blinds rattle, as if they would cave in. The blows of the tiles and sheets hitting the roof made them think that the house would be smashed to pieces.

The enormous old almond trees in front of her house were destroyed. Many of the homes of her neighbours had no roofs, and their belonging soaked, but they are alright. ‘’The calm came at about midnight. Today at dawn I saw that there wasn’t a tree standing. Everything looked burned, there was no greenery.

The wind, with gusts of over 250 kph, howled louder than wolves, and they say that it sounded as if a thief was trying to get in their houses. Some gave way, and today the photos on the social networks narrate the intense battle by the easternmost point of Cuba with the torrential rain, waves up to five metres high and the gusts of the cyclone.

Through television, shots on the internet, the papers or calls, we can kow of the sadness of the First Town after Matthew entered Tuesday evening, with its eye almost thirty kilometres in diameter through Punta Caleta, south of Maisi.

The storm tore up lamp posts as if they were feathers, destroyed walls, smashed balconies and filled the roads with stones and rubbish. It brought fear and destruction, but took no lives, nor could it prevent Baracoa picking itself up.

From here arose Guama, the first ten year Cuban War of Independence, and its people still have the rebelliousness that defended them from pirates and corsairs. Because of this the grey sky at dawn today after the most powerful hurricane they’ve seen will tomorrow be painted an intense blue, and with their aboriginal strength, fortuitous legends and broken curses, its children will know how to heal the wounds. 

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