At Blanco and Trocadero

At Blanco and Trocadero

It snows in Paris. A lot. Too much maybe. Looks great, but fascination won’t last forever… Once you gave that kiss that supposedly tastes different in the cold, once you got tired of making angels lying on the white ground, once you got messed up in a snowballs battle, once you got your own Jack Frosty... Once you do all that stuff, snow it’s truly a nuisance. Nice, but annoying...

But Cubans love snow, maybe because we are not that used to it… Our winters only brought, if so, some early morning scorching, a dense haze at dawn, but never a snowfall as God intended. And with global warming, our chances are dropping. The winter in Cuba is symbolic, pure formalism of the calendar, a pretext to wrap ourselves up. To get warm...

Back in Paris, a friend posts in Facebook a "selfie" from the Trocadero Square, the Eiffel Tower all whitened behind. You can barely spot Luisa’s beautiful face hidden between a scarf and a balaclava, but the photo is quite spectacular.


That image reminded me about a Cuban expression that had nothing to do with Paris, snow, or Luisa: “to be in Blanco (White) and Trocadero”. For us, that means having no idea of ​​something, being unaware of an issue, not even having a remote clue on a specific topic.

Where did that expression come from? I only know that it refers to the intersection of Blanco and Trocadero streets, in Centro Habana. Blanco is not that famous, but in Trocadero 162 lived José Lezama Lima, author of the monumental novel Paradiso, an asthmatic smoker of cigars cursed for years, until common sense and historical justice brought him out of infamous ostracism.

What happened at Blanco and Trocadero that immortalized that square in popular speech? If the wise Eduardo Robreño was alive, perhaps he would know. Or maybe Argelio Santiesteban and Ciro Bianchi, other archeologists of Cuban society. That crossroad doesn’t have the traffic of Infanta and San Lázaro, 23 and M, Zapata and 12 or Cuatro Caminos. Blanco and Trocadero neither is Prado and Neptune, where a woman with fake butt and breast drove men crazy, and inspired world famous chachacha La Engañadora (The Deceiver).


There’s not much on the Web about subject, other than the confirmation that Blanco and Trocadero is a crossroad, and also the title of a manuscript novel written in the Cuban underground of the 70’s. I searched and asked where I could, but I’m already stuck, and I hope the readers of CubaPLUS enlighten me, because right now, I must confess, I'm “in Blanco and Trocadero”...


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