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  • In this somnolent town on Cuba's eastern tip, a roving carnival pours through the unlit streets. In the darkness, teenagers shout and bang on pots and pans--a burst of life amid the sleepy night. They stream past my balcony, dancing amid the clatter for a minute, before the music stops. There's a commotion somewhere in the front; angry words are followed by wild, flailing punches. A woman screams.

    A siren wails in the distance then rushes closer. Lights on a pickup truck illuminate the crowd. The people stand there, frozen by the sudden burst. They're just kids.

    Beside me, a man looks on and shakes his head. When I was young, he says, we used to celebrate into the night. "But not like this," he adds, turning away.

    Someone grabs a few of the revellers and shoves them onto the back of the truck. They don't protest. The crowd murmurs, then pools together and drifts off into the darkness.

    It's quiet again. Then in the distance, the drums rattle and the silence is broken.
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