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Francisco Castro:Everything becomes simpler when one crosses the line of thirty. That does not make it easier, but rather the opposite. There I am on the other side of the line, trying to figure out, what little I know about art, politics, economy … life, how to move without breaking oaths that seemed essential, how not to give up, how to make the years spent into a beacon to the future.

Close to Vedado (I)

March 30, 2009 |

By Francisco Castro

Havana Malecon seawall in Vedado. photo: Ana Maria Gonzalez

A few days ago, my friend Ana Maria -the designer of the floor plan that accompanies this post-, and I, moved to an apartment near the Havana neighborhood of Vedado.

Both Ana Maria and I are about to graduate and have collaborated on our final work of audiovisual production. She’s doing the photography while I direct my own version of a story by Jorge Luis Borges that is going to be produced on Cuban television.

Our student life is coming to a close, and therefore so is our time in the dorm at the Superior Institute of Art. We wanted to get a jump on the moment when we would have to leave the rooms we’ve lived in for almost five years.

For a long time we’ve had plans for living together. We had looked for the smallest apartment possible for the sake of paying the least amount of rent. Below is how we had conceived of a place like this:

We devised a strategy of cohabitation based on the complete trust and respect cultivated throughout these years of university study. We intended to pay a maximum of 50 CUCs (US $62) for the apartment: 25 each. We would also divide the utility expenses as well as any purchases from the market.

We are aware that our professions will demand great sacrifices from us, sacrifices that not everyone is able to understand or to put up with, referring especially to romantic partners.

Not everyone can accept their partner working days and nights, and on occasions working the night following that same workday. Not everyone would understand that in addition to working in the television and radio stations, cinema studio or on location outside the city, you also have to take work home.

Our apartment floor plan

Our apartment floor plan

Then too, they don’t get it that you spend all of your time writing scripts, editing text, creating lighting for a scene, making thousands of telephone calls, receiving hundreds of people – actors, producers, directors, musicians, sound people, editors, designers….

And, to make matters worse, it’s hard for a partner to accept it when you have to get up in the middle of the night to write the ending of a story that you couldn’t think of earlier.

We considered all this and know and accept that it may be difficult for us to maintain stable romantic relationships. However, at least for the time being, blood boils in our veins with the desire to work making art.

Therefore, the possibility is extremely high that each of us will occasionally find a partner who we’ll invite to the apartment to spend the night. We have taken this into account; we talked about it and reached an agreement: as long as it doesn’t affect the sleep of the other – go for it.

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  • Hola Francisco, tengo una pregunta al respecto de sus planes para el apartamento (si no es demasiado personal): ¿Como es que dos estudiantes de arte tienen los recursos para pagar $50 CUC en renta mensualmente? El asunto de viviendas en Cuba es siempre… delicado… pues, me gustaría tener más detalles. ¿Quién es el dueño? El estado? Yo no sabía que fue permisible rentar apartamentos….? Por favor, clarificación!

    Saludos de México,
    Mark.