Dismantling the night: Jarachó
In Havana there are no habaneros. With that premise, the townspeople seek solace in a city that only the natives find small.
I don't know about Santa Clara, Sancti Spíritus or Santiago. In Pinar del Río there is nothing to look for after a pandemic, an "ordinance" and a hurricane. The hapless Cinderella, says the hymn..., and it is not for pleasure. You don't go there because "you're just passing through", you have to go with premeditation. An unfortunate people whose geographical disposition is increasingly being cut back. What's more, not even that which makes it so famous is true, we are not the land of the best tobacco in the world, nothing, only that the "sacraocracy" needed more space for sugar cane and displaced tobacco while injecting everything with propaganda to make us believe, that was said by Fraginals, not a pinareña like me.
But the vacations arrive, the end of the year, the weekend, and we have to return to the village by a kind of divine mandate. The town is empty, everyone is gone -I emphasize all-. I am not talking here only about not having the usual friends to go every Saturday to the only bar/cabaret that existed in the city until a couple of years ago, but even those places do not exist in the present. Their owners emigrated and the state-owned companies gave them the final blow.
In contrast to such a desolate landscape, an ordinary man with some capital decided, in April last year, to transform a tiny house located at Rafael Morales # 23 -bending Martí Street, which is the main street in almost every town-. He painted it clean, put yellow lights, a couple of pictures, tables and chairs "carelessly" to create a rustic, cozy, quite tasteful atmosphere. But the place had the most difficult task: to achieve the loyalty of a public that no longer existed in Pinar del Río... or so we thought.
Alternative music in Pinar del Río? Trova and rock n' roll? Everyone knows that it was with the frikanda on the AHS website. But at the frikanda pinareña grew gray hair, she's not up for that, or she left on the first plane that came along. I think Kiko, the director of Tendencia, is still there, maybe someone else. Not even Toques del Río is going to play, after having them even in the teaching breaks. Pinar needed another portal, to renew the meeting space, because the subaltern communities reproduce even without gametes and, as such, they need to take shelter.
Jarachó. With that name was baptized the little house: Russian word to say that something is good. A simple adjective. And "simple" is an oasis in the middle of the desert.
I arrive at the bus terminal after two hours of tight travel, unload my bags at the door of my house, climb the hill, go three blocks ahead and I'm in Jarachó. There are so few of us that, without even warning, I meet the remaining ones, reason enough to return from time to time. Sitting in front of a cup of coffee, ordering a tres leches -the house specialty, without discussion- or working behind the counter. In a town where jobs are becoming less and less available, my friends, the "weirdos", the tattooed, the bearded - small town, hell... you know - rotate their black aprons to work behind the tiny counter, combining it with their lives, their careers and formal jobs, to get one foot out of boredom and the other out of misery. One leaves it, another takes it, and the one who works today comes to have a coffee on his day off, scratches a vinyl, spends the afternoon, to put on the same apron the next day and send someone else to play the music.
At Jarachó there is no way to have a one-on-one conversation. You sit at one table and the other is right next to it. I arrive at whatever time it is and I sit in a corner, suddenly I'm talking to three tables at the same time, telling the same stories of the pre-university, of that party "do you remember?", and we call the one in Miami, and the one in Madrid. And a very small community, enough to fill the living room of a house, gathers to listen to some jazz, a bit of rock n' roll, a little Bad Bunny song, the latest Rosalía, always better when the playlist is proposed by the one who arrives.
Those of us who live in Havana are saved, we have the mantra of a "Havanaized" place and we know where to go to get what we need.
-What's on today? -I ask my best friend of eighteen years, whose turn it is with the apron.
-Today there is Amable Lazac, performative and guitar, you know', tomorrow Wendy with Chelo, on Saturday Frank Delgado.
-Again, he took a liking to Pinar.
Jarachó has brought together, in addition to the group of friends -or including them-, the young people who have remained in this province making music. The Duo Vida, on vocals and guitar; Caribbean Swing Instrumental on cajón, flute and covers. The Fable Duo. Aaron White. Eros Crespo on piano, jazz with timba and some percussion. Adrián Berazaín. Café Amargo. Gilberto González with his sax, or piano and vocals. Clowns on Sunday mornings so that the children of the house also have something to do. Of course, without losing the feeling of being unloading on a terrace, in the doorway of the AHS, in one of those parks where you used to gather, guitar in hand, to sing the same songs until three in the morning.
And there you spend the afternoon, you go home -you go down three blocks- take a bath, eat something, and come back. It's nine o'clock at night and the place is cramped, it's hot, you can't smoke inside, but if you go out, you don't get your chair back. Frank Delgado sits on the usual bench, with his modern and inexhaustible microphone, tight in the corner, under the yellow spotlight, sings and everyone is silent: "sometimes when I'm lost like a sailor on a moonshine", and talks to the usual people for two, three hours. What Havana man with a billboard would say that, in the distance, a Frank concert is always a novelty. Next week he will unload the one who feels like it, plus an instrument. And next month our friend from Miami will hang a photo on the clean walls, along with other friends with cameras, and a "minimal" exhibition will be set up. Then we will do a drawing exhibition, and later on, an engraving exhibition. Three people are enough to set up an exhibition in the living room of a house/café. And we will arrange everything in the space and we will invent something with the theater people, who are the same ones who paint, act and write, the same ones who order coffee and the tres leches is not lacking, the ones who tomorrow put on the apron to cover their shift and get a foot out of boredom... they have a playlist for that.
And so, they rotate, while they look at me sideways when I arrive, disgusted by the ghost town, asking for the last one for the second room of my house in Nuevo Vedado, because they believe that there are still habaneros here, that the many bars occupy our weekends, that we can go to all the concerts.
The people of Pinar del Río believe that Havana can be different.