I get out of bed and look in the mirror. The messy hair and horrible-looking face make me look away and I stumble onto the phone. I look at the time. It’s 11:30 am. I head over to the kitchen like a zombie. I prepare some coffee, which I will take without sugar and a bit of powdered milk.
After the presidents of Cuba and the United States announced that diplomatic relations between the two countries may be re-established, we have seen much speculation among average Cubans, and many of the hopes people considered lost appear to have been regained.
The news zigzag their way through Cuba’s online media and down the grapevine. Some say it’s coming, some say it isn’t. It might be this year, there may be plans underway – maybe, we’ll see. In the midst of all this chatter and contradictory news, the arrival of an Internet connection accessible to us simple Cuban mortals seems within sight.
The reason I write this now is not precisely because some farmers markets around Havana are selling potatoes again, but the fact this product has been made available again in such a surreptitious manner. It’s taken so long – has it been months, years? – that people have been caught off guard.
Cubans can justifiably feel frustrated about many things. This, however, is not what I want to focus on right now. Rather, I want to touch on the way these frustrations are externalized. Specifically, I will comment on a conversation I had the displeasure of overhearing.
Call me paranoid if you like, but, folks, I smell a rat and I want to catch it before it can slip away. Recently, I shared some of my small, daily joys with the readers of Havana Times. One of them was discovering a television program with an outrageously gay character for a host, aired by Cuba’s Canal Habana.
News about the recent incident involving the poisoning of a number of individuals who ingested methanol (popularly known as “wood alcohol”) prompted me to rummage through my documents in search of the above diary entry, which I wrote on October 3, 2010, while living in La Carolina, in the municipality of San Miguel del Padron.
Joys that burst right in front of your face, like soap bubbles, to leave you with a feeling of emptiness, of frustration, but joys nevertheless, fulfilling their mission of oxygenating the blood, of cleansing a bloodstream contaminated by the sloth, intolerance, stagnation, ignorance, opportunism, close-mindedness, fence-sitting…and a horrifyingly long list of other ills that surround us.
We got a clear picture of what we Cubans are made of last year, when a gas station in Santiago de Cuba blew up. That was perhaps one of the most painful confirmations that Cubans are made of a spineless slime: those people splashing about over the spilt gasoline, as though it were a puddle of water…for God’s sake…
One of the first things one sees when arriving in the Emergency Room of the “Manuel Fajardo” Clinic Surgical University Hospital, is a huge poster in which you can read: “Your health care is free, but it costs…”, followed by a list of some of the services we are given free, with their prices.