A kiss and the sea

A kiss and the sea
Fecha de publicación: 
23 March 2023
Imagen principal: 

West of Havana, highlighting the coastline, we can find the picturesque village of Santa Fe, last community of the municipality of Playa located along the north coast.  As every riverside site, its culture treasures, among stones and sand, lots of hints of popular imagination.

Among those enigmas still safeguarded like pearl in a shell, you see the sculpture that adorns the entrance of the community library, first, and the Culture House later.

Carved in bronze and very tall — it is two meters high — the work seems to represent a couple wrapped in passion. He, emerging from the ocean, "prays" for the love of his beloved woman.

With no other references than those of its author, http://The tragic life of Aldo Gamba, the monumental image had a life as eventful as Aldo Gamba himself, the famous Italian artist who designed it.

How did the statue get to the beach in Santa Fe? That is one of the great mysteries that neighbors and researchers interested in the matter have not been able to unravel.

However, since the 1960s, Rosalina Betancourt Hernández, a native of the area, a librarian by profession and a vehement protector of local heritage, clung to caring for the sculpture as if her life depended on it.

In an interview with designer and writer Gladys Gómez Regüeiferos, the woman narrated years ago the adventures that prevented the "certain death" of the effigy. She was rescuing books for her library, when by chance, she discovered the sculpture among the weeds of a land where a foundry was located.

The workers were melting down pieces of bronze with the aim of recovering that metal, she said, and that sculpture would be part of the process! Alarmed, Rosalina asked the administrator to avoid the tragic fate that was coming.

Upon reviewing it, they only discovered the name of the artist who created the beautiful work: Aldo Gamba, Rome 1930, not the title that should identify it. Hence, in order to provide it with more identity, she decided to call it "The Kiss of the Sea", a name that the sculpture keeps to this day.

After overcoming obstacles and putting in great efforts, Rosalina managed to get the help she needed to rescue the heavy carving. In the interview with Gómez Regüeiferos, she recalled that she had the support of five men, a crane and a truck.

In a way, she moved it to place it in front of the building that housed, indistinctly, the library and the Culture House. The sea flooding that usually hit that coastline, undermined little by little the construction; but the statue remained immovable in all its splendor.

However, the future looked nothing rosy for it. In such a way that several personalities of culture and art, residents of Santa Fe, began to take seriously, once again, protecting the work from the scourges of nature and human destruction.

Among them, renowned sculptor and National Award for Plastic Arts (2003), Osneldo García (died in February 2022) stood out in his task. Later, and with fine-tuned judgment, various criteria coincided in relocating it to the area where the streets leading to the old and new Santa Fe converged.

There, far from the coast, at the entrance to the heart of the city and guarding the triangle designed by Fifth Street and Seventh Avenue, the passion of the two lovers shines. "The kiss of the sea" rests under the protection of this marine and boisterous town.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff


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