PASSENGER NO. 5

Arte por Excelencias - - Cuba -

One af­ter­no­on in April 2006, when I was stro­lling through Old Ha­va­na, I stop­ped at one of the many ea­sels whe­re the se­llers of old bo­oks ex­hi­bi­ted their re­lics. It was a day af­ter my birth­day and a few hours of tra­ve­ling to Fe­de­ri­co's Gra­na­da. I had just re­re­ad Clau­de Couf­fon's bo­ok on the li­fe of Lor­ca, which oc­cu­pi­es a pri­vi­le­ged spa­ce in the bo­ok­se­ller whe­re I ke­ep the most be­lo­ved texts.

I con­ti­nu­ed my tour of the Pla­za de Ar­mas by re­vi­ewing tit­les. Then I saw it: a small, well-pre­ser­ved bo­ok of poetry by Gon­go­ra, which se­e­med to hi­de be­hind a vo­lu­me of an in­com­ple­te ency­clo­pe­dia. I ac­cep­ted wit­hout war­ning the so­mew­hat ex­ces­si­ve pri­ce and left the Pla­za.

So long wit­hout its pa­ges being tam­pe­red had left in the bo­ok so­me ri­gi­dity that ma­de it im­pos­si­ble to na­tu­rally scan it. I be­gan to take off its pa­ges de­li­ca­tely and from the in­si­de of the bo­ok a pa­per fell to the ground, an old gre­en rec­tan­gle. I picked it up in­tri­gued, and when I no­ti­ced it, I could not be­li­e­ve my eyes. It was the ticket of the ste­a­mer Ma­nu­el Ar­nús, the ship that Fe­de­ri­co García Lor­ca bo­ar­ded in Ha­va­na, he­a­ding for Spain.

Li­fe is full of sig­ns; only that we, so­me­ti­mes, are una­ble to per­cei­ve them. I could ha­ve se­lec­ted a bo­ok I did not ha­ve, and I cho­se Gon­go­ra, who­se poetry ad­mi­red and stu­di­ed by Fe­de­ri­co in de­tail.

It may be a coin­ci­den­ce that I was on April 5 and bought a bo­ok by Gón­go­ra that pro­bably ac­com­pa­ni­ed Lor­ca on his jour­ney to Ca­diz, whe­re the Ar­nus ma­de a sto­po­ver to le­a­ve the po­et, but on April 5, 1930 Fe­de­ri­co wri­tes to his pa­rents: “This is­land is a pa­ra­di­se ... if I get lost, look for me in An­da­lu­sia or in Cuba”. Yes, it may ha­ve be­en the re­sult of chan­ce, but I pre­fer to think that everyt­hing is just one of the many pranks of Fe­de­ri­co, be­cau­se he re­mains the sto­ne in the wa­ter and the voi­ce in the bre­e­ze.

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