Radio26.Cu – Matanzas, Cuba


The life of Chirino

Gloria Machado León 9 marzo, 2017

Armando Chirino, instructor of diving in the Ciénaga de Zapata.

Each place has its characters that characterize it, that trace its history, those that become the essential faces of everyday life. However, on most occasions nobody knows about his past, just look at his present. Their lives pass in a coming and going of new experiences, they even question how they came to become the most popular actors in the city.

The Ciénaga also has its anecdotal, distinguished, common and necessary beings, those that make it a site full of legends. Thus, on the way to this town we find a man, simple people, someone we could not imagine was a hero, and that is Chirino.

Just with his last name he identifies himself, he asks again and again how he is called and responds: I am Chirino. Sooner or later we would know, its name symbolizes The Warrior. Some will think that he has fought important battles, it may be, the battle of life, the battle of the waters, is an expert from the depths.

Few know the terroir as he, or rather, the underwater world of this marsh. From the viewpoint of the cave, by adoption, the wise nature has hidden a treasure that he describes as “very beautiful”. You are passionate about its coral reefs, the variety of fish, lobsters, turtles, crabs, a fascinating and endless heritage.

About 30 years ago a man from Havana arrived to discover the province, he fell in love with his landscape and in an act of conquest and colonization he took over the surroundings. Maybe also about 30 years ago that this man stopped being a typical city to feel from the wetland.

Here he worked at the Hotel Playa Girón, in Caleta Buena and currently in Punta Perdiz. Today he is a dive instructor, they say of the best. As he jokingly mentions: “I do not worry that you do not know how to swim because for diving what is needed is to sink.”

Chirino speaks and looks at the sea, something that captivates him, relaxes him and as a Hemingway of these times he feels more and more committed to the care of that which is also his home.

As a diving instructor you always have to be on the lookout for any unforeseen, because the time you have is minimal to fight the dangers. “You might enjoy a half-hour walk, or on the contrary, that in a minute any eventuality happens.”

Armando Chirino Martínez was a security and protection agent in Havana, the capital of all Cubans. At night he guarded the country and in the mornings he fished in the dams: “That was perhaps my first approach to the submerged space,” he says.

From that moment he was interested in diving and presented himself to a rescue and rescue course that was to start in the country. “You do not have conditions,” they said, but as he perseveres, he triumphs, then he prepares to become a rescue worker.

“One day, on 23 and Malecón, a boy was drowning, the waves were very high, four or five meters; The rescuers entered and the force of the sea threw them against the stones until it was my turn and the chief said: – Chirino, it is your turn.

Without suit or equipment, this warrior would have to save a person and save himself. That was his first impression, but they quickly gave him the instruments and at the command of Ready, he threw himself into the sea.

It says: “A wave came and it enveloped me, I threw myself to the right side, it began to bleed, they shouted to me: It leaves, it leaves !. My hands were shattered, but honestly, I was sorry to leave, there were 300 people who were watching. “

“Suddenly he raised another wave, I threw myself on it, I sank, I surfaced, I looked for the little boy and I saved him. This is how my life begins in scuba diving. “

It is truly a HERO, in capital letters because this should refer to people who often forget what they have lived to give life to others.

Now, even if they call him Chirino, I’ll know that his name is a warrior, it’s Armando. Recognized as a habanero, or conversely, someone who is in love with the land of coal, his family, his neighbors, his people. Someone who always says, “Here I came and I stayed, there is no room for me anywhere else.”



Original text by on March 9th, 2017


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