Alfredo Fernandez

Photo by Ula Cisak

All too frequently I experience moments in which I don’t feel human. Every day I feel like one of those race dogs you occasionally see in American movies.

I go around feeling incredibly similar to a hungry Greyhound waiting in their stall for the starter pistol to fire to then take off — along with other dogs — coursing after the bait: a mechanical hare that can never be caught.

I can’t come up with any other comparison to the interminable circumstance of always chasing after some basic day-to-day product. Right now, the “hare” I’m chasing all over the city is a floorcloth for mopping my apartment.

Prior to that is was a bottle of cooking oil, preceded by a dozen eggs. Before that it was a few pounds of potatoes, rice, beans, and powdered milk – behind which were so many other products.

Sometimes I think this notion of a “dog race” is not at all coincidental; on the contrary, I think it’s been carefully orchestrated by the government itself.

If we hadn’t gone for more than twenty years without this ever-pressing need to be running behind at least one vital product, we would have had much more time to analyze the true origins of these and other essential shortcomings.

If I had had the time, I would have pondered questions like why I don’t have Internet access. Why cellphones are so expensive. Why I can’t travel abroad. Why taxes are so high if the streets never get fixed. Why I can’t buy anything of value on my salary and why water’s so scarce.

I should explain that these “whys” never leave us; on the contrary, we’re the ones who have to put them on the back burner to focus all our energy on the “hare of the moment.”

Because of all this, I think the constant shortage of staples in Cuba is a strategy to provide a diversion for us hybrid canine-humans, which is how we end up feeling. But we give these thoughts little time – we’re too busy chasing the basics.


Alfredo Fernandez

Alfredo Fernandez: I didn't really leave Cuba, it's impossible to leave somewhere that you've never been. After gravitating for 37 years on that strange island, I managed to touch firm ground, but only to confirm that I hadn't reached anywhere. Perhaps I will never belong anywhere. Now I'm living in Ecuador, but please, don't believe me when I say where I am, better to find me in "the Cuba of my dreams.

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