Put your hand here, Macorina

Put your hand here, Macorina

Heritage & Traditions

By Coco Simpson

Many are the characters that have become part of the imaginary and traditions of Cuba, either as part of popular slang phrases, mythical legends, artistic-cultural products inspired by these or simply in memory.

Such is the case of the first woman who drove a car and obtained a driving license on the island: María Calvo Nodarse (La Macorina).

María Constancia Caraza Valdés, as she was truly called, was born at the end of the 19th century, and by the 1920s of the following century, she had become a scandal in Havana, because in addition to being the first female driver, she had a striking red convertible, with a regular route through Prado and the Malecón.

The name of La Macorina has survived to this day thanks to a song by Mexican singer Chavela Vargas, inspired on the poem written by Asturian Alfonso Camín. The melody accompanying the verse saying “Put your hand here, Macorina” in allusion to the part of the body that the reader or listener wishes to imagine ... It is said that La Macorina was a “lady of the night”.

She was a lover of men with power, from whom she received lavish gifts. She had four luxurious houses: in Calzada and B, Línea and B, These in Vedado district; Habana and Compostela and San Miguel between Belascoaín and Gervasio, in the older or downtown area of the capital.

She was the owner of valuable horses, fur coats and many priceless jewels, as well as nine automobiles, mainly European as they were her favorites.

Of course, she never liked being called La Macorina. The nickname by which she is still known came about by chance; it became popular forever.

Her decline began in 1934 after the world crisis that hit hard the country's economy and sugar prices had dropped significantly, but despite this, this character was imprinted forever on Cuban culture.