Material Cuba

22 Jun

Today my neighbors sacrificed a pig. They have a son who graduated from the University of Information Sciences and with the money from the sale of the meat they’re going to buy him a DVD player as a reward for finishing his course.

As there is nothing favorable in the economic predictions, some prefer to go ahead and acquire something because… later it would disappear from the stores, from the reach of those who are further down on the social scale.

For today, the parents of future college graduates remember the disaster of 1989, when they woke up one morning to find the stored empty everything upon us. Days in which the shadow hanging over the nation forced us to incorporate into our lexicon the phrase, “we are in a Special Period” and forced us to prepare ourselves for “option zero” if necessary.

Thanks to this collective memory of resistance and survival, there are those who have a very fine nose to warn them of certain tremors that are not exactly earthshaking.

Some residents of Playa Guardalavaca (the country’s third most popular tourist destination), move in with family or friends in Holguin during the summer so they can rent out their home. There are eight weeks in which they can earn enough money to make some minor home repairs, but some jeans or name-brand sneakers, and spend a few days drinking a bit and eating meat. In Cuba this gives the appearance that life goes on.

Months earlier some of my wife’s friends went to Havana to buy recycled clothes, second hand. Some time ago they lost interest. Now it doesn’t work out, many capital residents who work in this business change their own, already used clothes for those they take from the import stores and sell them outside the formal channels. So when you go to these “shopirags” as it’s popularly called, you might find clothes of different colors all cobbled together… a real mess. As it’s something you can’t sell, there’s not much interest in traveling over 400 miles for pleasure.

News of human survival… it’s hard to live fast in country where the hands of the clock run backwards.

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